Unlike in decades past, both young boys and young girls are told by parents and teachers that they can grow up to be anything they want. And many of them want to be scientists. Throughout their school day, both boys and girls generally see men teaching them math and science – many with the same passion and skill they see in professional athletes and other role models. And many boys pursue their dreams of become scientists due to these strong influences.
But little girls start out just as curious about science – studies have shown that in the fourth grade, girls are equal to boys in both aptitude and interest in math and science. And yet they’re not becoming scientists. Why?
A recent report from STEMconnector provided mixed news on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career interest among high school students. While overall, the class of 2013 reported a substantial increase in interest of pursuing STEM careers over the class of 2004, interest among girls in STEM careers was actually found to be declining.
So where’s the disconnect? Why do so many girls start out with an interest in STEM subject and lose it in high school before they pursue a STEM career? I would argue that it’s because they are not presented with positive math and science female role models on a daily basis. They are not presented with female science teachers to encourage them and show them it can be done. To show them that girls can become great scientists just like boys can.
In society, there are plenty of women who are interested in science, despite not pursuing it in college. And many of these women would love to teach. Alternative teacher certification programs, like ours at the American Board, enable these women to become science teachers without having a degree in a STEM subject or needing to go back to school to earn a master’s degree.
The need for female science teachers is urgent. We’re losing half of the potential science workforce, and half the brain power to compete with scientists in the rest of the world, because we’re losing women from the sciences. All it can take to keep a girl on the path to becoming a scientist is one female science teacher, who shows her it can be done.
We know they’re out there. Women who have the skills and passion to be great science teachers. It’s our goal at the American Board to get them into a classroom as soon as possible!