Women’s History Month Opens Path to STEM

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It never occurred to me as the young child of a physicist that I belonged in the world of science and technology any less than my brother.

Only when I started middle school and realized I was far outnumbered by my male peers in the computer science class and robotics club, did I begin to wonder if I had somehow missed the memo. Was technology only for boys?

From toy stores that shelve only dolls and dress-up clothes in the “girls” section to popular television shows that portray women in STEM fields as nerdy and unattractive, our society continues to tell girls they’re somehow unfit to contribute to the world through science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

March is Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” It’s important to celebrate these role models, but the challenge for educators is to ensure that the discussion of women’s contributions to STEM fields doesn’t become encapsulated in a single month.

Instead, use next month as a jumping-off point for a year-long effort to invite your female students into the world of STEM. We have resources that can help!

Lessons

Girls’ Attitudes About STEM Careers
In this lesson, students read about new research that explores obstacles to women pursuing STEM careers and discuss how to remove the barriers.

Legislating Equal Access
Title IX ensures an equal education for female students seeking STEM careers. In this lesson, students become familiar with the principles of Title IX and evaluate its impact on their own learning environment.

The Importance of Female Voices
In this lesson, female and male students collaborate to understand the importance of female voices in our collective conversations.

Magazine Articles and Blogs

Planting Seeds, Growing Diversity
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes have long been dominated by white males. Here are ways to make these fields more attractive to girls and students of color.

What Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart Taught Us
Both Ride and Earhart made it easier for women to advance in formerly men-only fields. Unfortunately, not enough girls and women today are following in their footsteps.

Pettway is senior editor for Teaching Tolerance.