How to Encourage Girls to Get into Science

Despite all the progress made in the past few decades, statistics show  that women are still significantly less likely to study chemistry, engineering, physics, maths or computer science at university.  Educationalists are eagerly looking for ways to bridge this gap.  But there is also much parents can do to help encourage girls to get into science.

Be Positive

Show girls from the earliest age that science isn't just for boys.  Encourage them to get involved with fun STEM science experiments at home, buy science kits for them, and don't restrict dressing up clothes to Disney princesses - get some doctor kits and white coats in there too!

Encourage girls to be involved in and enjoy science and maths subjects at school.  Talk to her teachers about other ways to support her interests in science, and ensure as girls get older they are able to choose to continue science subjects rather than automatically being encouraged in an arts direction.

Even when girls are allowed to enroll in maths and science subjects, at the first hint of a problem, they are often encouraged to drop the course and take something easier.  But very few people have ever learned to ride a bicycle on the first attempt.

Some students take longer than others to grasp concepts.  It is also the teacher's job to support every student in their class who is struggling, not write them off and get rid of them.  Challenge your daughter's teacher and ask for more support whenever necessary.  Give your child all the support she needs to pursue her interests.

Buy books about significant female scientists such as Marie Curie, Mary Anning and Ada Lovelace.  Visit science exhibitions and seek out TV shows that depict science, maths and technology in a positive light.  Talk often about the contributions women have made to all areas of learning, including maths, science, engineering and computer science.

Some useful additions to your bookshelf:

Related article: 10 Amazing Women in Science You Should Know About

Smart Girls Rock

A lot of kids, and even teachers, will label smart girls as 'geeks' and therefore different from other girls, even less desirable.  The school and society as a whole need to applaud and reward academic ability and not just try to churn out girls who are 'nice' and well-behaved people-pleasers.

Encourage your daughter to be herself, not to conform to some outdated idea of what being female is.  Don't pigeonhole your daughter to become a wife and mother, encourage her horizons to be a broad as her brother's or cousin's

Why shouldn't she want to go into space, to dig wells in Africa, to travel the world, or to get her PhD?

A lot of boys know what they want to be when they grow up, either through their own choice, or that of pushy parents who want a son who is a doctor or engineer.  If girls are interested in those careers, especially engineering, they are often seen as somehow different.

Encourage your daughter and show her that the only way to get into those careers is through studying the right subjects.  Girls in secondary school should be focussed on what classes will help them achieve their goals and cut out the fluff.

Expose girls to role models such as school alumni or local professional women.  Ask your daughter's school if they have a programme in place to allow girls to talk to other women about how they have reached their goals and their accomplishments in science, maths or engineering.  The more models for success girls have, the more positive they will feel that they can be successful in science, maths and technology too.

Try to prioritise your daughter's interests during weekends and holidays with trips to museums, field trips, archaeology digs, and other hands-on activities.  During term time parents can pay for additional tutoring, or perhaps an online course.

A science club is always a fun way to engage students and can foster a real love of science.  If your daughter's school doesn't have one already, could you offer to help run one at lunchtime or after school?

This support and encouragement can make a real difference to girls' attitudes to science subjects, and start to do a little to change society's attitude to girls studying science.

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