Most of us have heard the riddle about the doctor and his son:
A young boy and his father ended up in a car accident. Both were injured and rushed to the hospital. They were wheeled into separate operating rooms, as two different doctors were prepped to work on their respective patients. One doctor went to help the father, but the other doctor stared at the boy and exclaimed, “I can’t operate on him! This is my child!” How can that be?
The answer: The doctor is his mother.
The real question: Why is this considered a riddle? Is it because our initial thought is to assume that the doctor is a man?
This simple riddle points to a complicated problem regarding women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. According to the United States Department of Commerce women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, but they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs—even as more college educated women enter the workforce. Even with inspirational women in history like Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, and Sally Ride, women are still under-represented in science and technology.
“Girls bring a different dynamic into the STEM field. Whether it is programming a robot to dance or curing the world of disease, females bring their own flair, enthusiasm, passion, and creativity to the field of STEM.” – Courtney Hromada, Assistant Coordinator of STEM Programming at the Boonshoft Museum
Some Need-to-Know Stats
- Individuals in STEM fields are paid 26% higher wages than non-STEM workers and are less likely to experience joblessness.
- Girls who are interested in STEM have significantly higher confidence in their academic abilities and higher academic goals.
- Only 13% of girls say a STEM career would be their first choice.
- 57% of girls believe they’d have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously in a STEM job
- 82% of girls feel they’re smart enough to have careers in STEM fields.
“My father has a PhD. in Engineering and my mom was an artist. I was exposed to both worlds at a young age, which inspired me. For me it was always science, I knew that is what I wanted to do. However, I think we need to be more supportive of girls who are interested in STEM. It can be applied to anything!” – Dawn Kirchner, Director of Education at the Boonshoft Museum.
Our goal? We aim to change that 82% to 100% by giving girls the tools and opportunities they need to have the confidence to tackle science, technology, engineering, and math without feeling intimidated. Not only does the Boonshoft Museum offer an array of educational STEM opportunities, from exhibitions and summer camps to special events, we are also encouraging girls to sign up for our girls-only FIRST LEGO League team. FIRST LEGO League is a great opportunity for girls to make new friends, compete, and problem solve in an encouraging environment.
“Girls are so important in the STEM fields. For too long, women had difficulty advancing in their careers due to gender discrimination and stereotypes. As time progresses, I am thrilled to see an influx in female scientists- especially those who begin their paths at the Boonshoft Museum. Women have a unique perspective and experience in these typically male-dominated careers.” – Blaire Bartish, Manager of School and Public Programming.
If you’re child’s interests go beyond engineering, encourage them to visit some of these great resources to explore or spark a new STEM interest:
Girls Who Code
NASA Science4Girls and Their Families
NOAA Student Opportunities
National Girls Collaborative Project
Parents: If you want to read more about the importance of women in STEM, visit www.whitehouse.gov for some of the leading statistics, resources, reports, and facts.