Changing Girls’ Lives Through STEM Education
Imagine what the future might look like if you are a girl attending a school with limited access to rigorous math and science courses, enrichment programs that expose you to new possibilities, and a support system that encourages dreams and aspirations. Would you know and believe you had the ability to achieve the economic promise of a future career in the science and technology fields? Would this vision of your future be different if you were exposed to STEM careers or had a parent working in Silicon Valley?
Twenty years ago, the newly-established Techbridge Girls sought to find the answer. They looked at two schools in East-Oakland and San Ramon, California. In each classroom, they asked the girls to list all the engineering professions they knew. In the San Ramon classroom, the girls rattled off a variety of STEM careers in rapid succession, so many that they could barely fit them on the oversized sheet of paper. In the East-Oakland classroom, the girls struggled to come up with five examples.
STEM is a vehicle that can change the destination of a girl’s life. Across the United States, STEM skills and careers are in high demand and will continue to grow. Nearly 80 percent of all new jobs created over the next decade will require these skill sets. Yet, compared to peers from middle- or high-income neighborhoods, girls from low-income communities will have far fewer opportunities to prepare for and launch into a STEM career.
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