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Keeping Girls Interested in STEM Fields: Getting Help Outside of the Classroom

If you have a daughter who excels in math and science in school, or you are a girl who has some interest in pursuing a degree or career in one of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields, one strategy you can employ to learn more about your options and keep you interested and excited about your choice is to get involved in programs outside of a school setting. Many such programs are out there right now, with more coming along all the time. Today I’d like to share a list of some of the programs I recommend.


Aspire, sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE): Aspire works to get girls in K–12 excited about engineering well before college. They provide scholarships, local events, and connections to women engineers in your local area.


Digigirlz, offered by Microsoft: This program gives high school girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, to connect with employees of Microsoft, and to attend hands-on workshops in computers and technology.


Girls Incorporated Operation SMART Program: SMART is a program for girls from diverse backgrounds that works to get them excited about and improve their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. One of their programs, called Girls Dig It, allows 12- to 14-year-olds to work alongside archeologists uncovering things about the past and learning how they affect modern day societies.


Girls, Math & Science Partnership (GMSP): The GMSP was created to address issues related to girls and their involvement in science in the classroom and their participation in the workforce in science and technology careers. GMSP brings together all stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and mentors to join forces in an effort to make sure girls succeed in math and science.


Girl Scouts of the USA: The Girls Scouts offer two national programs that give girls a chance to explore STEM fields. Leadership Journeys provides the opportunity to learn about such topics as energy audits, air quality, and locavor eating habits. The conventional Girl Scouts program permits girls to earn Proficiency Badges in such specialty areas as Digital Art, Financial Literacy, The Naturalist, and Science and Technology.


Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution (IGNITE): This Seattle-based organization allows girls the opportunity to explore STEM careers by providing teachers around the country with the tools and the curriculum that replicate the successful model being used in Seattle public schools.


My Gifted Girl: This community aims to support gifted girls in the pursuit of their goals by guiding, inspiring, and supporting one another. Though it is not specific to STEM, many of the girls who are interested in STEM careers will find themselves right at home with other gifted girls.


This list represents a handful of some of the programs available to our bright young people to inspire, enthuse, and mentor them in their journey into STEM studies and work. I encourage you to get involved early and stay involved so that your daughter, or you yourself, will get the support needed to keep moving forward in these pursuits.


Karen Purcell

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