This blog was originally posted on the ACTE Educators in Action Blog and was reposted with permission.

By Eboni Camille Chillis, Ph.D., Coordinator of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education, Clayton County Public Schools, Guest Contributor

Technology (STEM) is all around us. If you are reading this blog…that’s STEM, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the food we eat, the life we want is all contingent upon a set of thinking. STEM is the ability to develop a set of thinking, reasoning, inferences and predictions that is embraced with creativity at work and in our every day lives. And of course, there is the mental tenacity necessary to navigate through mathematics and science; which is a prerequisite for sustaining the competitiveness of our ever-changing technology world. What factor yields the most influence in inhibiting or bringing more women into nontraditional fields like STEM? My humble opinion is that there is a conscious/unconscious bias that has developed in educational, business and industry practices minimizing the opportunity for girls to see themselves ready and able to use their mental rigor and intellectual thinking required for STEM courses and careers.

Fact: Supporting women STEM students and researchers is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world; it is also important to women themselves. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. And STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.  ~ Office of Science and Technology Policy

Solution: If STEM is all around us, then girls and women are too!

  1. Increase STEM exposure = imagery. A field trip just isn’t enough! Billboards, business/industry mentors, film/television programming, conferences, festivals, competitive events, and educators where WOMEN are front and center.
  2. Although the acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, show girls the unimaginable range of careers available immersed with #1.
  3. Move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset in STEM, that’s all of us who impact education, industry, branding and marketing – immersed with #1 and #2.

We have an intentional and purposeful commitment towards attracting and retaining girls in STEM. Economic projections indicate that by 2018, there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs. STEM is a destination reach for girls/women to innovate, predict and solve the problems that shape our world today, tomorrow and beyond. The global workforce is waiting on them, which is a CTE MATTER!