Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, are a group of academic disciplines that have historically been dominated by men. Today, women are breaking down gender barriers to succeed in these fields. However, it’s important to continue proactively encouraging girls to explore these topics. Piquing their interest in STEM early in life can set them up for a successful career down the road. Here are five ways to encourage young girls to explore STEM.


5 Ways to Encourage Girls to Explore STEM

Let’s discuss some practical ways to encourage young girls to explore STEM and break the stereotypes surrounding these fields.

1. Choose STEM-Related Toys

Interest in STEM often starts with educational toys that foster strong problem-solving skills. However, many toys marketed at girls focus more on aesthetics and playing dress-up. Try balancing these toys out with gender-neutral, STEM-related options. This can help spark an interest in STEM at a young age.

Problem-solving games, science experiment kits, and building sets all help kids develop important STEM skills. Many of these toys can be used in a group as well, making them a fun bonding activity. The key is to choose toys that are age-appropriate and relevant to your child’s interests. For example, LEGOs can teach children important spatial awareness and building skills that are necessary for STEM. However, you’ll need to choose a LEGO set based on a topic or franchise that your daughter is already interested in.

2. Incorporate STEM on The Playground

Young girls spend plenty of time each week on the playground. Playing outside is essential for physical development and gives kids an opportunity to get their energy out. However, the right playground equipment can help girls explore STEM principles. In particular, spending time on the playground often sparks curiosity about physics.

For example, spending time on swing sets will get young girls curious about gravity and the nature of motion. Seesaws, slides, and merry-go-rounds also create interest in these physics concepts. Spending time outside can also get kids interested in nature and the weather. Girls will explore these concepts naturally while playing, but you can take things a step further with lessons or games that elaborate on these concepts.

3. Showcase Female STEM Role Models

Seeing female role models who have succeeded in STEM will help young girls understand that it’s possible. If girls only see examples of men working in science and technology jobs, they may feel like those disciplines aren’t for them. However, if they’re frequently exposed to role models in these industries, they’ll start to picture themselves working in these careers later in life.

There are many ways to do this. Start by reading age-appropriate books about women and girls exploring STEM topics. Educational TV shows and movies that feature women in STEM could also spark their interest. Some video games even contain female role models while teaching STEM concepts. Ideally, these pieces of media should also showcase women of diverse backgrounds so that everyone feels included.

Teachers can also introduce students to STEM role models in real life. If possible, have female STEM professionals come to the classroom as guest speakers or participate in a career day. This gives young female students the opportunity to ask questions about the field.

4. Sign Them Up For STEM Extracurriculars

Once girls are old enough, joining STEM extracurricular activities gives them an opportunity to further explore these fields. Some popular STEM-related extracurriculars include robot-building groups, coding classes, science groups, and math groups. When possible, choose extracurricular groups that have other girls in them or are led by women. This will help your daughter feel more comfortable joining in.

Extracurricular activities give girls an opportunity to explore STEM concepts in a fun, creative way that they might not necessarily get at school. This can help build a life-long love of these subjects. It’s also a chance for girls to narrow down which STEM disciplines are most interesting to them and plan for the future. As kids get older, these extracurriculars will also bolster their resume and can help them get into STEM higher education programs and internships.

5. Provide Encouragement and Avoid Gender Stereotypes

Girls who are passionate about STEM sometimes encounter frustrating challenges and roadblocks. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes are still very present in many parts of society. Some people believe that women aren’t as suited to careers in STEM as men are, but this simply isn’t true. When talking to children about STEM, be careful to use gender-neutral language and be as inclusive as possible.

It’s also important for young girls in STEM to receive as much encouragement as possible to help them stay motivated. Continue to support young girls who are interested in STEM and connect them with mentors when possible. Highlight just how important STEM work is in our society and the valuable contributions that girls and women are capable of making in these fields.

Final Thoughts

Exposing girls to STEM early in life helps empower them to explore these fields later in life. Although the rate of women in STEM is increasing, there is still a long way to go to reach equality. Right now, only about one-third of the STEM workforce is made up of women.

Proactively challenging gender stereotypes is crucial and helps prevent young girls from getting discouraged. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or another close adult figure, your encouragement could make all the difference. Over time, more girls will feel confident exploring the STEM topics that interest them, which could eventually change the gender balance of these industries.