5 Ways to Inspire Girls to “Stick with STEM”

BY: - 23 May '18 | Parenting

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I have a confession to make.  I love math and I don’t care who knows it! I also love the look on people’s faces when they find out I have a bachelors degree in Math and a masters in Electrical Engineering. They’re almost always super impressed…like I’m some sort of genius – lol! But since I’m being honest, I must admit that I was not always proud of my aptitude for STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), especially during middle and high school.

In fact, a recent Always Confidence and Puberty Survey found that “Fifty percent of girls feel paralyzed by the fear of failure1. Unfortunately, this fear deters girls from trying new activities, especially within the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields2.”

Like most girls, I was dealing with a fear of failure and, to some extent, a fear of not being cool enough because of liking math and science.  But, thank goodness, I stuck with it.

And now, I am the mother of three girls who are following in my footsteps.  They are great in math and science with A’s and B’s in their advanced classes.  But I often hear them saying things like: “I am not good at math” or “science is not my thing.”

So, I was delighted when I received an invitation for my girls and me to attend a STEM Academy program to help Girl Scouts in 6th – 8th grades persevere through failure and Keep Going #LikeAGirl.  For the past 35 years, Always has been championing girls’ confidence, and encouraging girls to realize their full potential. And for over a century, Girl Scouts of the USA has been preparing girls to empower themselves to lead in their everyday lives.

With those missions in mind, Always & Walmart live #LikeAGirl are teaming up to support Girl Scouts of the USA’s (GSUSA) STEM programming. They kicked off this collaboration with an event on April 23, 2018. Held in the NYC area, there were panel discussions with successful women in STEM fields along with various educational and fun workshops and confidence building sessions.

Various Girl Scout troops from around the country met in the NYC area on April 28, 2018 to attend a STEM Academy hosted by Always #LikeAGirl and Walmart.

Various Girl Scout troops from around the country met in the NYC area on April 28, 2018 to attend a STEM Academy hosted by Always & Walmart live #LikeAGirl.

5 Ways to Inspire Girls to “Stick with STEM”

Can I tell you that we, oops, I mean the girls had lots of fun at the STEM Academy?  While the girls were learning about STEM, I was taking a few notes as a parent who wants to inspire her girls to “Stick with STEM.”

1. Don’t STEM Bash

Be mindful of the things you say about STEM. Dr. Knatokie FordFounder of Fly Sci Enterprise & Former Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama Administration, led a Computer Science Workshop Inspired by Girl Scouts’ STEM Curriculum for girls to learn to create an algorithm.  Following the workshop, Dr. Ford shared that you don’t have to be a STEM professional to raise one. Neither of her parents had college degrees, yet they raised her, a biomedical scientist! Dr Ford said: “if you have an intimidation about STEM, don’t tell your kids because you can unknowingly transfer your anxieties onto them.”


2. Help Them Build Confidence

Let your girls know that they can do anything they put their minds to. Confidence will empower your girls to do whatever they set their minds to do.  Many of the women on the expert panel were told things like STEM is too hard and that women don’t do that (become engineers.) The panelists were often the only women and sometimes the only minorities participating in their educational programs, but they stuck with it.

In fact, Tracy Van Houten, a Systems Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, led the Robotics: Building a Simple Sensor workshop during the STEM Academy and told the girls something very powerful.  She said: “Whenever anybody tells me I can’t do something, I tell them to watch me!”  Now that’s confidence!


3. Give Them More Learning Opportunities

Don’t just rely on schools; give your girls other informal learning opportunities to experience STEM. Whenever you can, try to find Girl Scout camps and different programs and opportunities to expose your girls to STEM fields.  My girls had a great time at the STEM Academy and one of them even admitted she liked her science classes.

4. Help Them Find Their Power Within

Girls should be mindful of the stories they tell themselves. If you say you are not good at math, then chances are you will not be good at math. Help your girls realize they have tremendous power within and that the stories they tell themselves matter.

50% of girls feel paralyzed by the fear of failure. Let’s remind our daughters of the power they have within. @Always @Walmart #LikeAGirl https://bmwk.me/2GIGCB5 Click to Tweet

5. Encourage Them to Join the Girl Scouts

Participating in Girl Scouts will help your girls build the confidence and leadership skills they need to overcome any obstacles they may face in life. Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA and a Rocket Scientist, shared that Girl Scouts inspired her to pursue a career in science and math.  While on a camping trip, her troop leader saw her looking at the stars and encouraged her to get her science badge.  She shared that all of the things that she did in Girl Scouts gave her the skills and confidence to follow her dreams in STEM.

Abigail Breslin

Finally, one of my daughters said the highlight of her day was when actress and former Girl Scout, Abigail Breslin led a Confidence Building Improv workshop with the girls.  At first, she said she did not want to attend the improv workshop.  But soon after it began, she was volunteering to participate in one of the exercises.  I was proud of her for being confident enough to volunteer, which is exactly what the STEM Academy was designed to do, give each girl the confidence to use failure as fuel to keep going.

BMWK – How do you encourage your girls to be interested in STEM?  Do you unknowingly find yourself STEM bashing?


Disclosure:  This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Always and Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

 For more information, visit https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/our-partners/always-walmart.html.

1The Always Confidence & Puberty Study Wave V, March 2017; based on U.S. females 16-24 years old; 2017 census.

2The Always Confidence & Puberty STEM Study, August 2017; based on U.S. Females 16-24 years old; 2017 census.

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 528 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.


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How Do Kids Suffer in Dysfunctional Marriages?

BY: - 5 Jun '18 | Parenting

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Dr. Buckingham,

I am stuck in between a rock and a hard place in my marriage. My marriage is totally dysfunctional. My husband and I live like we are roommates and try our best to remain sane in our home. However, it is becoming more and more difficult. We are in constant conflict about our finances, parenting, intimacy and family functioning. He accuses me of being emotionally unstable because I have a history of depression. I cannot deny that I have ups and downs occasionally. I try my best to keep a positive mood, but sometimes my children do see me in a low place. I know that I have some challenges, but so does he. He is verbally aggressive toward our children occasionally and me often. We both know that the marriage is on its last leg, but believe that it is better for the kids to have two parents. I know that my marriage is doing something to my kids and I want to know what. How Do Kids Suffer in Dysfunctional Marriages?


Wife and Mother in Distress

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Wife and Mother in Distress,

Unfortunately, your situation is too commonplace. There are thousands of married couples in your situation. They are trying to determine if it is better to remain married for their kids. While no one knows exactly how growing up in dysfunctional marriages impacts children mentally, many social scientists would argue that children who grow up in dysfunctional marriages are more likely to grow thinking that the dysfunction is normal. Children pay attention to models in their lives and encode their behavior.

Behavior that is seen is considered to be visual encoding and behavior that is heard is considered to be acoustic encoding. Children see and hear, and then try to make sense out of the information that they received. When they observe or hear dysfunctional behavior between the two people that they love the most it creates conflict because they have to assign meaning to the information. Given this, I believe that kids suffer the most by learning abnormal and unhealthy behavior from their models. The conflict that arises inside of them is something that they have to learn how to resolve and work through without turning to destructive means such as drugs, alcohol, violence or passive-aggressive behavior.

If we agree that kids learn from the models in their lives, we could also agree that kids who grow up watching their parents comfort and respect each other will more likely model the same behavior in their marriages. You have to ask yourself some tough questions such as, “Do I Want My Children to Have Two Parents, but Distorted Thinking About Marriage? Am I Giving My Children the Best Opportunity to become Healthy Adults? Is Stable Living Better than Healthy Living?


Learn how to improve your communication almost immediately and reduce the amount of unnecessary arguments and issues that come up so easily because of saying the wrong words or sending the wrong messages with our Effective Communication Online Training System. On sale now!

The abovementioned questions are tough to answer so I highly recommend that you pay attention to your children and try to talk to them about how they feel. If they do not want to talk with you or lack the ability to articulate how they feel, please consider getting them some professional counseling. I believe that kids are very resilient and are capable of bouncing back after facing adversity. However, I also believe that it is best to create conditions where they do not have to fight against demons. An untainted or non-dysfunctional childhood is the best gift that you can give a child.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to askdrbuckingham@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions, and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 220 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at www.DrBuckingham.com.


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