As a mom of an eleven year old girl who is interested in programming, it can be pretty disheartening out there. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and I can find nothing for her to partake in to foster this love. It is something I know she’s be good at too. That is why I was super excited to meet several people who are looking to push programming and STEM for girls.
First, lets start talking about what STEM actually is. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. My husband went to the Milwaukee School of Engineering. I can tell you that when he was in school that the girl to boy ratio was 1 girl for every 8 boys. Yes, it’s that bad when it comes into these studies.
That is why I was excited to meet Sascha Paladino (creator of Miles From Tomorrowland), Isis Anchalee Wenger of the #IlooklikeanEngineer movement, Angela Navarro and Julie Ann Crommett of Google, Dr. Yvonne Cagle of NASA, and Diane Ikemiyashiro of Disney Junior. Yes, this was a very woman heavy panel! However, they gave us some great insight.
Most of the women on the panel will tell you that they are self taught. There aren’t classes out there for young girls in these topics (and there still aren’t. That’s slowly changing.) Isis Anchalee talked to us about her journey of being pre-med to a software engineer. She is the face behind #ILookLikeAnEngineer. How did that happen? She was in a public campaign for work and people couldn’t believe that somebody could be that good looking and smart. (Sad, I know.) Other women started tweeting using the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer in solidarity to her to show that engineers aren’t just lonely white makes in their basements. It’s a great hashtag to check out to see others stories and to see you aren’t alone if you have interests in these fields!
What makes me the most sad is the #1 reason why girls don’t go into STEM fields. Julie Ann Crommett (Google) told us that they did a study and girls told them that they chose to not go into a science or math career because of a lack of adult encouragement. What that means, there isn’t a way to foster this in girls out there. That is why shows like Miles From Tomorrowland are important. Loretta (Miles’s sister) is a programmer. Kids can model her behavior and not even realize it! It makes programming and the STEM fields cool, and is a theme that is woven throughout the series. Even Dr. Cagle (NASA Astronaut) commented that “there is a wonderful exchange between Miles and the concept of STEM.”
To show you how they have worked STEM into Miles Into Tomorrowland, watch this Loretta Coding Featurette. Also, in “The Discovery Expedition” episode, Loretta uses her coding skills to discover a hidden planet. This episode will premieres Friday, December 4 at 10:30 AM ET/PT on Disney Channel!
How do you encourage stem learning with the girls in your life?