STEM education is an important aspect of education as it relates to the future of young girls and especially women of color. Many years ago, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education were all different fields but, now, are combined in one acronym to describe the similarities that exist between them.
STEM education is the latest compilation of fields that include science and engineering. Success in these fields has a lot to do with the environment that a female student lives in and their overall motivation to succeed in the field. A female student’s environment will determine whether a student is academically prepared to enter a certain field in college.
For example, does their school offer a strong math and science component in their educational process? A watered-down curriculum will not help a student to become successful in his or her field of choice. Even more so, does the female student have access to a college class so that she can further challenge herself?
As we can see, a student’s environment has a lot to do with the makeup of the child that plans to enter a STEM field. Motivation is a large part of entering the STEM field and making a career out of it. When a female is motivated, nothing can slow her down.
Who are the people that motivate her to be her best self? Parents? Siblings? Friends? Teachers? Overall, a student’s motivation is necessary in order for her to persevere through STEM in the midst of adversity. I have outlined five items that will ensure a female’s success in the STEM fields:
- Be an effective mentor to a female who wants to pursue a STEM field. Be honest with the student on what it will take for them to reach their highest potential. It is important for the female to absorb the knowledge that the mentor gives as it will help them to prepare for her future college decisions and direction for her upcoming career.
- Be willing to share opportunities of which a female can take advantage. These opportunities could be career agencies, internships, conferences, access to other colleagues, etc. All of these opportunities can help the student to grow over time as she learns more about her prospective career.
- Encourage the student to study and prepare for upcoming exams in their classes. The greatest sign of motivation of a female in the classroom is high grades in her classes. It shows diligence and it gives her a small idea of what it feels like to be in a high-pressure environment. When a student feels down, she can be encouraged to continue until she gets to the end of the finish line.
- Establish a learning community of students who are pursuing STEM fields. All of these women can come together to share their experiences in their classes and overall life. Basically, it establishes these students as role models for each other. It also gives them a place to vent when they have hit a hard patch and they need some encouragement from other women who have passed through certain experiences.
- Find ways to develop a recruit and develop a curriculum that will nurture women in STEM. Recruitment is essential in STEM fields as students need to see how their skill sets can be applied to a new career. Female recruiters are highly likely to recruit other women into the field.
Also, schools can create a curriculum that will allow students to take more mathematics and science courses so that they can prepare for the requirements that are needed for the degrees. Enlist community colleges to partner with high schools so that they can create a more rigorous curriculum for these women in prospective STEM fields.
As we look at STEM and its future, we have to use these tips to position young ladies for a career and a voice in education. If we do not position them for success, we will be losing out on valuable women who could have taken STEM to the next level.
STEM fields require dedication and determination on the part of the students.
These students have to know that entering these fields will not be easy. You have to be prepared academically, mentally and emotionally for what will occur while navigating through the curriculum which will lead to your future career. These days, it is always better to have more resources and education than to have less on any given day.
As a person who completed three STEM degrees, I can say that each degree be-came more and more intense as I climbed the ladder of education. But intensity is what is needed so that women can begin to get a feel of what the workload will be like in the future.
As a woman in STEM, the pressure is on to see if I can perform at the level of my colleagues. Due to this invisible standard, I position myself to work harder to reach the level of success in teaching, research, and in service.
Overall, women in STEM fields will create a balance between men and women that has been needed for many years. The female perspective has been missing for a while and now both genders can work together to accomplish success in STEM.
Through recruitment, mentoring and other aspects, we can find ways to nurture these ladies to be the best STEM professionals that they can be.
Dr. Antoinette Marie Davis is a lecturer of mathematics in the Mathematics & Statistics Department at Eastern Kentucky University. She is also a visiting instructor at Model Laboratory School.