STEM Advocacy

DSC_0105 web-180x271Girl Scouts is committed to ensuring that every girl has the opportunity to explore and build an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The strength of our nation depends on increasing girls’ involvement in STEM, to develop critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills that are important throughout life. While the percentage of careers that require advanced STEM education increases, an alarmingly high percentage of girls lose interest in STEM subjects early in their development.  If the United States is to maintain its competitive advantage in the global economy, we urgently need to ensure that our entire population of young minds, and especially girls, are educated in STEM fields.

Click here to view the latest research from the Girl Scout Research Intsitute – Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

The Problem

Despite recent increases in women’s and girls’ participation in STEM fields, significant gender participation gaps remain in many key subjects.

  • Girls enter kindergarten equally as interested in math and science as boys are, but many girls begin to lose interest in fifth grade for science and sixth grade for math.
  • Feeling Safe, The Girl Scout Research Institute’s report found that 45% of girls ages 13-17 consider speaking and participating in class a threat to their emotional safety. Over a third expressed concerns about being teased, bullied, or threatened during a typical day.
  • High school girls consistently match or surpass boys’ STEM achievement on key measurements, yet girls take AP physics and computer science exams less often.
  • Female undergraduates earn just 25% of math and computer science degrees and only 20% of engineering degrees.

In 2009, women comprised 46.8% of the total U.S. workforce, but they hold only 26% of available STEM jobs and just 11.5% of engineering jobs.

While the percentage of careers that require advanced STEM education increases, an alarmingly high percentage of girls lose interest in STEM subjects early in their development.

Many people hold implicit biases of which they are largely unaware. These subtle biases influence girls’ inclination to engage in STEM and “contribute to bias in education and the workplace—even among people who support gender equity.”

Girls are often genuinely concerned about being associated with negative stereotypes of girls and women in STEM, which often prevents them from participating in STEM activities.

Girls often have unrealistic expectations and ideas about what STEM education and careers are really about.
Interest in science or math does not necessarily translate into careers in engineering and technology, especially for women and minorities.

The average national class instruction time for students in grades one through six has decreased by 17 minutes per week for math and 23 minutes per week for science.

The Importance of Girls’ Participation in STEM

DSC_0266 web-153x257A good STEM education allows students to succeed in all subject areas. It helps them develop problem-solving, critical-thinking, and collaborative skills. Therefore, engaging girls in STEM at a young age is important for any future career they pursue.

If the United States is to maintain its competitive advantage in the global economy, we urgently need to ensure that our entire population of young minds, and especially girls, are educated in STEM fields.

Business, science, and education leaders connect the ability for the U.S. to compete globally directly to how well our students are educated in STEM fields.

Nine out of ten Fortune 1000 executives agree that bringing more women into STEM fields will solve U.S. personnel shortages and help the U.S. remain a global leader.

A 2007 study by the London Business School found that teams with 50:50 gender membership were more experimental and more efficient.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that job openings in STEM occupations will number 2.8 million in 2018, with 1.2 million net new jobs and an additional 1.6 million replacement openings. In addition, 92% of STEM employees will require “at least some postsecondary education.”

Include information on implications for local businesses and organizations that rely on employees that have strong STEM skills.

There continues to be a pressing need not only to bolster the engineering workforce, but also to create a culturally diverse work force in engineering and technology.

Girl Scouts: Part of the Solution

Girl Scouts of the USA is committed to ensuring that every girl has the opportunity to explore and build an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Girl Scouts is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls and their development. Girls in a single gender environment are more willing to try new things, and engage more fully, which leads to greater confidence and increased success. For nearly 100 years, the Girl Scouts has offered experiential learning in nurturing environments.

Girl Scouts National Program portfolio threads STEM learning throughout our unique leadership journeys and in the deep skill-building opportunities within The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. Our girls explore, learn, and develop skills and qualities that serve them all their lives.

Informal education can deliver programs tailored to girls’ needs that build the next generation of STEM workers and move towards gender parity in STEM fields.
As the preeminent organization for girls and a leader on informal STEM education for almost 100 years, Girl Scouts is committed to ensuring that every girl—not just Girl Scout members—has the opportunity to explore and build an interest in STEM fields.

The all-girl environment of Girl Scouting provides a safe space for girls to engage in STEM activities without the fear of failure; and the use of relevant, real-world examples helps girls gain a more realistic understanding of STEM education and career opportunities. In addition, the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is centered on the processes of Discover, Connect, and Take Action, which reinforce and support girls’ STEM experiences.

With our groundbreaking research, innovative STEM education programs, and policy solutions, Girl Scouts is uniquely positioned to help policymakers, educators, and the public advance girls’ STEM education to ensure that our country can access the talents and resources of the next generation of female scientists, engineers, IT professionals, and mathematicians.

By increasing public awareness, securing funding for organizations like Girl Scouts, and supporting policy efforts, such as teacher training, public education, and state and local government policies and programs, Girl Scouts can provide the support needed to:

  • help educators engage and motivate all students;
  • expose girls to diverse role models and mentors;
  • promote proven techniques for teaching STEM, including hands-on, inquiry-based learning; and
  • cultivate and support collaboration among nonprofits, educators, businesses, and leaders.
  • Reference current Girl Scout programs and the work your council does on STEM; highlight specifically the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and Girl Scouts’ leadership journey It’s Your Planet—Love It!