Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are not just highly lucrative and profitable fields, they are essential for the continued progress of society. That being said, every field, whether it be in STEM or the arts, benefits from a variety of minds entering their workforce. So, it is not only for the benefit of young girls that they are encouraged to pursue STEM fields, it is for the benefit of countries and society as a whole.
The Brownies organization in the United Kingdom will teach coding and other skills to get more young girls involved in STEM.
Brownies are taught life and outdoor skills, like first aid and trail hiking, and receive merit badges when they achieve proficiency in them. Now, they will also get a valuable start in STEM education, with badges being offered in coding, robotics, and cybersecurity.
The research found that girls in the UK, aged 11-21 years, still largely held the opinion that STEM was for boys. In England, girls less often advance to upper-level math and physics classes compared to their boy classmates. Not only that, the percentage of women in England’s core Stem workforce dipped 2 points from 26 percent in 2019 to 24 percent in 2020, according to an analysis of government figures.
Maddie Wray-Reynolds, 23, a Guides and Brownies leader in Cheltenham, said it was “really sad” to hear some Brownies say recently that “they couldn’t be a doctor because they were a girl.”
While some of the most popular badges for Brownies are baking, mindfulness, and performing, and among Guides, they are mixology (non-alcoholic), upcycling and backwoods cooking, this may soon change with badges being offered in aviation, invention, and space while Guides cover science, computing, robotics, and engineering.
This refocus is meant to get more young girls interested in STEM and to change the perception of science and tech. Nicole McWilliams, who leads the engineering group for Android smartphones at Google and supports the courses, said, “People think about drawing and painting as what creativity is, but technology is incredibly creative. It’s like a blank canvas and a box of crayons.”
It’s only a matter of encouragement and availability, according to experts. Daljit Kaur, a computer science teacher who works for Stem Learning, noticed that girls aged nine and 10 had no problem getting immersed in experimenting with a robot, but by the age of 12 “they become more hesitant, they don’t want to break it.” She said that once nudged, though, the girls were just as successful as boys.