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STEM-Centric Career Assessments

Engineer Your Life is a fantastic site for high school girls examining whether the field of engineering could be a good fit for them. The site is with loaded dream jobs that depict inspiring women loving what they do, while making a difference. Not only will girls feel excited about the different career possibilities in front of them, they will feel empowered to trust that they can “make it happen” There are also sections for parents and counselors learn more about the various fields of engineering, why engineering is a great career, and how they can advise their students about the field of engineering.

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SciGirls CONNECT is a national outreach effort to encourage educators to adopt new, research based strategies to engage girls in STEM. Visit www.scigirlsconnect.org and click on RESOURCES to find quick easy ways to supplement your curriculum with activities and videos. You will find low-cost, step-by-step instructions to teach a lesson on any of the following topics: earth & space, engineering & design, health, life & environment, physical science, and technology. With all the lesson planning done for you, all you need to bring is your education and enthusiasm!

The U.S. Department of State has funded a summer program called TechGirls that brings females from across the world to the U.S. for hands on work in STEM. This program helps inspire interests and maintain roles for female students in STEM. The overall goal is to continue improving gender equality and opportunities for women in every field. One student of the program said she feels some of her fellow female students just don’t have the confidence to pursue STEM. However, after participating in TechGirls she feels the female students are more than capable to study STEM they just need the right tools and opportunities. A global-scale program like this will hopefully make a significant difference for gender equality everywhere. Programs like this will also help the next generation of female leaders to confidently be prepared to tackle a successful career in STEM.

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The resources for students to learn about careers in STEM are slim. NATS (National Air Traffic Control Services) held a session specifically designed for teachers and counselors to improve their knowledge of STEM. The main idea is to get teachers and counselors educated about STEM so they are able to pass the message to students. If counselors don’t know what careers and opportunities are available in the field, then they are not the best people to give advice on the subject. To get more students to pursue a career in STEM education is a great first step. At least in this case teachers and counselors will have a foundation of knowledge on STEM to draw from. The event is a great example of what should be widespread across high schools. Counselors and educators job is to help students to make great decisions. In the grand scheme of things, students are still young making major decisions when choosing a careers path and improving the approach can help them put their best foot forward.

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The male dominated STEM culture has to start taking women seriously. Universities have implemented mentorship programs and tried to help females in STEM throughout their time in college. However, after they graduate females are quitting, specifically the field of engineering, at a consistent rate. Susan Silbey said it perfectly that “gender stereotyping in the workplace, coupled with unchallenging projects, blatant sexual harassment, and greater isolation from supportive networks, leads many female students to revisit their ambitions.” Diary entries collected from engineering students revealed a lot about the difference experiences between men and women in the field. In group work in school for example, females are often given secretarial jobs versus the males who get to work on the technical engineering content. On the job front, the entries also showed the majority of males enjoy their internships while females feel they are not taken seriously and given fewer hands on problem solving jobs. The study also found women tend to want to be involved with socially conscious engineering, but soon realize most firms don’t pay attention to those issues. These negative experiences are pushing females out of engineering and unless the culture changes the numbers will continue to drop.

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Mixing up the curriculum and the methods of teaching students is important in maintaining younger students’ interest. These websites offer great alternatives for teaching. This also gives students the opportunity to work with technology – a vital skill for their future. The article offers 5 websites and the topics range from grammar to typing and even a game show style question program. They are free to use and have been effective for Alyssa Nucaro, the 6th grade English teacher who recommends the sites. The influence of technology is everywhere and constantly growing, so incorporating tech in early schooling can benefit students in years to come.

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A female in engineering!? People assume a female student must be extremely gifted to be studying STEM, instead of an average student who has chosen a major based on interest. This can cause major anxiety among female students in STEM, and studies have shown it can hinder the ability of the student to learn. In today’s society, it shouldn’t be shocking that women are in STEM. The stigma can take a toll on female students mental health. They feel like they don’t belong or are not equal to the males. In reality the students are perfectly qualified to be there, however it is a natural desire to assimilate well in their chosen program. The article recommends female students have mentors to aid them in integrating into their male-dominated environment. Soon it will not be anything out of the ordinary for women to be in STEM.

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When are students losing interest in STEM? The answer is earlier than we thought. In a study focused on interest in astrology, scientists found middle school is the time the desire significantly declines. The study was based off of asking students of four different age groups what their interests were, and they wanted to do when they grew up. Categories ranged from taking care of animals to watching science fiction. The results also showed that children are less likely to choose astrology if they had never been star gazing. Proving once more how beneficial and important introducing STEM, especially early on, is to a child’s potential career path. A positive find in the study was proof that even if a student did not pursue Astronomy, an introduction to the subject led them to something else in the STEM field.

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