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.
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 Ford, Founder 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.
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.