Women researchers, scientists and engineers are a minority compared to men, both in Spain and in the rest of the world. It is a question of gender: women, due to family mandates, socio-cultural prejudices or because society demands them in other work environments, women have little access to professional branches related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
As a teacher, you may know that many of the problems of adults originate in seemingly minor issues or in childhood. How does it apply in this case? The so-called STEM subjects, that are taught from primary education and, especially from secondary school, do not sufficiently attract girls and young women who, for various reasons, end up studying other subjects. Conclusion: the labor market, facing the future, demands STEM careers for which an immense female majority is not trained.
Education and gender: a couple for change
Recent studies confirm that girls between 11 and 12 years old are very interested in STEM. In spite of this, when they reach 15 years old, age in which they should be shaping an academic and work future, that motivation decreases. To the point that, in the field of higher education, only 35% of students enrolled in careers related to science and technology, engineering and mathematics are women.
What can I do as a teacher to reverse this situation?, you may ask. The answer is that you can do a lot for future generations. How? You can encourage your students’ interest in STEM in the classroom. For example, breaking myths such as the exact sciences and applied technologies are male careers. Secondly, appealing to female figures linked to physics, research, engineering and technological advances.
This will contribute to the fact that, through identification, girls and young people venture to follow this type of careers. Biographies of scientists like Marie Curie and even many real lives taken to the film format will also motivate your students. Look for innovative resources to confirm that the future, different from the past, is no longer “men’s thing”. Transmit them that women will have a leading role if today they begin to prepare for it.
Never before have gender issues appear to be the order of the day like nowadays. The future of women, their well-being and their role in a scientific and technological world will depend in large part on the fact that you, as a teacher, do your bit so that they can, as children, choose what they most want. Therefore, encourage your students to bet on a different tomorrow. They will thank you very much. It’s worth it, don’t you think so?