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Why is there such a lack of female representation across the STEM fields?

In a society that is renowned for pushing boys into certain interest and activities that require more “Brilliance” and mainstream media constantly stereotyping men to be brilliant and females to be the lesser gender, are we really questioning why girls at the age of 6 lack confidence in abilities and skills of their own gender?

This topic may sound familiar as we discussed it in a recent blog “Are we introducing girls to STEM too late?”, but with a recent study conducted by the University of Washington outlining ways we can erase these young girls thoughts, I thought why not discuss it again.

A recent study conducted at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington identifies that girls aged 6 believe they aren’t good at math, science or computer studies, but when fun STEM activities have been provided to the kids at school or home, it sparks an interest and inspires confidence.

Research scientist at I-LABS Allison Master said that introducing these concepts to young girls will not only boost confidence in their academic achievements but prompt interest in a field predominantly represented by men.

96 six-year-olds (evenly divided among boys and girls) were randomly split into 3 groups, group one was tasked with programming a robot and asked to complete survey questions at the conclusion, group 2 played storytelling games and also completed the survey questions, while group 3 only answered the survey. The questions were designed to seek the kids opinions of technology activities and their beliefs on whether boys or girls are better at computer programming.

Results showed that group 1 participants showed equal interest in technology and confidence in their own abilities, however the difference between group 1’s results and the other groups results was striking. The robot activity reduced the gender gap in technology by 42% and the gap in self-efficacy by 80%.

It was clear by the results that when face-to-face with boys and tasks girls perform just as well. Now i’m not claiming to have solved the world’s problems, but surely there is a relatively simple solution to this problem right? Introduce children to STEM from a young age, don’t give them time to learn these preconceived ideas and stereotypes of males being more accomplished in the STEM field.

Allison Master said “The important thing is to make activities accessible to all children in a fun way that also helps them build skills”, now I don’t mean to toot our own horn, but is 3D printing not the perfect way to solve this issue?

3D printing is a fun activity that not only teaches kids about the technology but also is a fun and exciting way to build interest in STEM and confidence within kids. 3D printing encourages participation and hands on learning which works best for younger kids. It also requires kids to understand the basic fundamentals of 3D printing in order to create their first print.

Make sure you check out the original article for more information on the study.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170427130757.htm

If you want to read our previous blog concerning STEM education check it out.

http://me3d.com.au/2017/are-we-introducing-girls-to-stem-too-late/

Until next time!