The past three weeks I’ve posted a series about women in STEM. Even in today’s world, there is so little female representation in science, technology, engineering, and math due to many various factors. It's essential we help our teenage female students realize there is a place for them in STEM.
An interesting way to look at women in STEM is through an international lens. The differences around the world might surprise you!
In case you missed it, check out Women in STEM: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to learn more about why these gender gaps exist and how to help our female students close the gap!
How Location in the World is a Factor
I just read a fascinating article from The Atlantic that made some shocking realizations about women in STEM in the world. Basically, in more progressive countries like the US, where gender equality is greater, there are much fewer women in STEM than in countries where males and females are not considered equal.
The article says Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates were the only three countries in which boys are significantly less likely to feel comfortable working on math problems than girls are.
Shocking, right?! You would think that greater gender equality in society would equal greater gender equality within STEM fields. Here is one theory- “...it could have to do with the fact that women in countries with higher gender inequality are simply seeking the clearest possible path to financial freedom. And often, that path leads through stem professions.”
This tells us that there’s something in liberal societies nudging women towards careers other than science, technology, engineering, and math, and vice versa in less liberal societies. The article shares other theories and findings; give it a read if you have a chance!
Three Inspiring Women in STEM
One way to pique our teen students’ interests in STEM is by sharing some inspirational women in various science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Bonus points if the girls can picture themselves in these roles, (One of the many reasons why diversity is important).
So, this week, I’m sharing 3 young, modern-day women who have made their way into STEM fields.
At a young age she founded ProjectCSGIRLS, a tech and computer science competition for middle school girls. This organization has chapters all around the world.
According to Huffington Post, Pooja said, “I saw female friends turn away from pursuing computer science because of the negative stereotypes surrounding the field, and the lack of female role models.”
The goal of ProjectCSGIRLS to show women they can use science and technology to make a social impact.
At just 15 years old, Sabina London founded STEM You Can! What started as a summer camp with 15 kids became a huge program for kids who love science. Her Campus tells us she wanted other young girls to become just as passionate about science as she was.
“My idea to start STEM You Can! extends back to my sophomore year in high school when I noticed I was one of only four girls in my honors chemistry class,” London shared. She was further motivated by studies that showed women lacked confidence in the scientific fields and felt like they were “incapable of succeeding.”
Sasha Ariel Alston
Sasha studied technology in high school in Washington D.C. and became an intern at Microsoft, where she designed her first gaming app. She was involved in many STEM-related clubs and courses; she noticed there were very few women around her and even fewer women of color.
So, she wrote and published a children’s book called, Sasha Savvy Loves to code.
Alston said, “I want girls to know that they can choose any career they want despite their gender or race. Raising interest in STEM should be done at an early age. Hopefully, girls hearing from me, a young woman who likes fashion and music just like most of them but also thinks coding is cool, will make an impact.”
To wrap up this series, I'm including a printable file with the graphics I made for these posts so you can put them up in your classroom. This would be a great bulletin board or decoration for your STEM classroom! These images feature facts and quotes for some of the featured women in STEM as an inspiration for your class. Enjoy!
Click here to download the pictured materials and then subscribe here to get more free materials, ideas, and updates sent to your inbox.
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How can you bring some hands-on spontaneity into your math classroom? It’s super easy! Invest in some dice and get some inspiration below.
When you make math more hands-on, you not only more successfully engage your students, but you are helping the learning stick in their brains; retention is improved.
When you think of math manipulatives, you may think of elementary students using various number blocks to learn place value or addition and subtraction. Sometimes, we struggle to think of ways to incorporate manipulatives in the upper grades.
That’s where dice come into play. There so many creative ways to get your students using dice in math class. I like the soft foam dice (shown above) because they are so nice and quiet when rolled! There are a few options of sizes, which is also nice. Some of the ideas below require both small and large dice together. You can also get giant inflatable dice. By buying just two of those jumbo ones, you'll be able to roll them in front of the whole class for management ideas (below) or for large group lessons on probability, etc. for everyone to see.
I posted on Instagram and asked everyone to share their favorite ways to use dice in the classroom, and I’ve included some of my own!
Here are 23 ways to get you started. You can use dice to:
Middle School Pre-Algebra
Do you have any cool ways to use dice in your classroom? Add more to this collaborative list in a comment below!
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Women in STEM have an incredibly long history of defying the odds, jumping hurdles in academics and breaking boundaries in these male-dominated field. Today, instead of more recent female inspirations, I want to turn back the clock and focus on these three women from the past who have helped pave the way for STEM women in society today.
In case you missed it, Inspiring Women in STEM: part 1 and part 2 each share three more inspiring woman breaking boundaries in the STEM field.
History of women in STEM
The disparity between men and women in these fields is wide, but female representation has also grown very, very slowly over time.
According to Science News for Students, “In the 1800s, women scientists were rare. Few women were allowed to get a college degree or hold down a job in any field, let alone science. Gradually, universities opened up to women. Soon, they began entering the world of science.”
In the 1960’s and 70’s there was a wave of feminism, yet only about 1 in 100 U.S. engineers were women.
Slate tells us about women in STEM in the U.S. from 1940-1980. Throughout this time various organizations popped up (like the Society of Women Engineers founded in 1950), as well as many leaders and government agencies who advocated for women in STEM.
During World War II, “demands for more of what was often called ‘scientific manpower’ and a shortage of civilian male workers prompted government and industry to start programs to train women in science and engineering.” This gave many women their starting point.
We still have a long way to go, but couldn’t have gotten where we are today without these women!
Inspiring Women in STEM
Here are 3 more inspiring women who made important contributions in STEM history. You can print this page and make copies for your students, or pull it up on the SMART board as class begins.
My goal is to make it easy for you to educate your students on the powerful women who have made progress in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field!
Ruth Ella Moore
According to American Society for Microbiology, in 1903 Ruth Ella Moore was born in Columbus, Ohio and went on to become the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in the natural sciences.
She studied tuberculosis and earned her PHD in Bacteriology. She went on to teach and research blood groupings and enteriobacteriaceae, as well as work her way up to become the Head of the Department of Bacteriology at Howard Medical College.
Ana Roqué de Duprey
According to the White House Archives, Ana Roqué de Duprey was born in Puerto Rico in 1853, and at just 13 years old, she started a school in her home. She was passionate about science and about educating girls.
“Roqué wrote the Botany of the Antilles, the most comprehensive study of flora in the Caribbean at the beginning of the 20th century, and was also instrumental in the fight for the Puerto Rican woman’s right to vote.”
BBC tells us Marie Curie was born in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She was a physicist and chemist, and one of the most well-known scientists in her time. Most of us already know of Marie Curie, who deserves a lot of credit for breaking through barriers to become a famous women of STEM long before most others.
She worked with her husband, Pierre, to investigate radioactivity, and eventually discover two elements, polonium, and later, radium. Later, the Curies won the Nobel Prize in 1903, and then she won another in 1911.
One more honorable mention for today is Joan Clarke, who studied cryptography and helped save lives during World War II working with enigma machines.
As a code-breaker for the British Government, Clarke was able to help find out about enemy U-boat attacks ahead of time and help the British army to prevent and defend against them. She and her colleagues saved many lives. She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work intercepting and decoding the Germans’ plans during the War.
Students can try their hands at code breaking and learn more about the math behind the enigma machines of World War Two in this fun cross-curricular activity pack.
We all know so many male scientists from history; let’s make sure these amazing women are remembered, as well!
Stay tuned for Part 4 where three more young, inspiring women in STEM will be featured!
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