Getting more girls into STEM isn’t rocket science – you just need to fire up their imaginations. That’s the mission behind American Girl’s new 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega, who wants to be the first person on Mars. The Mattel-owned toymaker debuted the aspiring astronaut doll on “Good Morning America” last week before a group of girls dressed in official NASA flight suits.
According to some, 2018 will be the year of artificial intelligence and, more specifically, of chatbots. Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa? They’re all examples of chatbots, AKA computer programs designed to help simulate human conversation. In 2017 alone, 35.6 million Americans used some type of voice-activated virtual assistant device at least once a month, according to eMarketer.
Under the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017, the FAA would establish and oversee a Women in Aviation Advisory Board to promote education, training, outreach, mentorship, and recruitment of women to pursue education careers.
House lawmakers wrapped up the year by passing three bills aimed at strengthening government programs for people hoping to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. As both the government and the private sector struggle to fill STEM positions with top talent, the bipartisan legislation would support education and training initiatives for women, veterans and other groups who are historically underrepresented in STEM fields.
Even when girls perform just as well as boys on standardized math tests, they are half as likely to major in science at college. However, having one parent or guardian work in the STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) field makes it more likely for girls to perform better in math and to enroll in a "hard sciences" college degree in programs such as engineering, architecture, math and computer science.
The gender gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a known and stubborn quandary: While women make up roughly half of the college-educated U.S. workforce, they account for less than 30% of STEM jobs. To fix that, the Girl Scouts hopes to prepare at least 2.5 million girls for potential STEM-related jobs by 2025.
S&P Global believes that a dual-pronged effort of increasing entry and retention of more women to the American workforce, particularly those professions traditionally filled by men, represents a substantial opportunity for growth of the world’s principal economy, with the potential to add 5%-10% to nominal GDP in just a few decades.
In a survey of more than 1,000 girls around the country, girls reported feeling encouraged to pursue technology instruction by parents (70 percent), but said their schools often don’t provide ideal class offerings.
The Society of Women Engineers held an Introduction to Engineering Workshop at Independence Charter School in Center City Nov. 17 with the goal of encouraging middle school girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. “[To] stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life and demonstrate the value of diversity,” Kristine Loh, the outreach director for SWE, said while explaining the SWE mission.