MIT Stem Pals
  March 2012  

We Need More Women in STEM!
From Rick McMaster
Rick McMasterMarch is Women’s History Month and it’s a good time to reflect on the many significant contributions that women engineers and scientists have made to the world society. I won’t try to pick just a few but instead suggest some reading to pursue. Several years ago, an excellent book was published, Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers by Sybil E. Hatch. It covers 238 stories of women engineers. I recommend it as background for anyone involved in STEM outreach to young ladies.It would be great if every middle and high school library had a copy. An e-book has just become available, Women Who Changed the World Through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math by Emily Hormaster. Again, this is great background information providing role models for girls.

I also suggest that you read or reread Changing the Conversation from the National Academies Press. Those of us involved in informal education and outreach can benefit from the suggestions and encourage more women in STEM through its messages,

Engineers are creative problem solvers
Engineering is essential to our health, happiness and safety
Engineers help shape the future
Engineers make a world of difference.

There have been a number of articles and op-ed pieces over the last month that I’ve mentioned in my STEM tweets as @DrKold. If you’ve missed them, one that deserves your review is “Women! Embrace your inner geek”. “The best thing we can do to grow the global economy is to encourage more women to go into science and technology fields—in essence, to encourage girls and women to release their inner geeks.”

I became involved in outreach over 15 years ago; part of my motivation was making sure that my daughter did not feel restricted in her choice of careers. (She has done well in both science and math.) In my school visits, I work with many fifth graders. The girls are as enthusiastic about the STEM activities that we do as the boys and maybe more so. We just need to work at keeping that interest high as they progress through middle and high school and on to college.

Rick McMaster is the STEM Advocate at IBM’s University Programs Worldwide. You can follow Rick on Twitter: @drkold

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