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Parent & Teacher Resources

Welcome parents and teachers. By supporting MCWT and similar organizations, you are investing in the future of young women across Michigan, whether they are your students, cousins, daughters, nieces or grand-daughters. We need your active engagement to help young women to be aware of their opportunities within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

 

Even though women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs.  This gap is even greater when it comes to computing-related occupations, where the percentage of female employees has decreased over the past decade. Supporting female STEM students is not only an essential part of America’s strategy to for innovation; it is also important to women themselves.   Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.

 

The Role of Parents and Teachers

We can not depend on general society or media communications to jumpstart girls’ interests in the sciences.   This responsibility falls to parents and teachers, who must actively encourage and cultivate a direction towards STEM careers. It can be an uphill battle. Jan Cuny, Program director, National Science Foundation's Computing Education for the 21st Century sums it up:  “The gender gap in computer science is partly rooted in long-held popular misconceptions: that computing is too hard for girls, that it's geeky, that it requires a single-minded 24/7 focus, and—maybe worst of all—that computer science equals programming and so provides little benefit to society. Why would this picture be attractive to girls—especially to girls who want to be creative, to make a difference, to change the world?  These misconceptions are too often confirmed by girls' peers, by cues in the popular media, by a lack of role models that run counter to stereotypes, and even by advice from their parents and guidance counselors.”

 

Making the STEM Choice

Creating awareness and opportunities for STEM careers is one focus for parents and teachers.   Another may be to help young women sort through the plethora of choices already available to them as they choose an educational and professional path.  A recent study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan revealed that women may be less likely to want careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) because they have more career choices, not because they have less ability.

 

Whether girls want to pursue formal careers in IT or merely get over a fear of high-tech gadgets, there are ways adults can support technical literacy in young women. Some of these include:

  • Changing the perception of women in technology. Invite female speakers to class or introduce them to role models in IT that are dynamic, successful and valued community members.
  • Encouraging girls to go out and play, “get dirty”, solve their own problems, go to computer camp, trust their own judgments, face fears, embrace curiosity and take risks.
  • Champion IT as a career in your school’s Career Day activities.   Give girls information on IT career benefits (e.g., salary, promotion) accompanied by real-world observations and conversations with people in these careers. 

MCWT is providing a shell Career Day presentation as well as Career Day Speaker Tips.   We have a data-rich overview of careers in Technology as well. Please make use of these resources and provide feedback to membership@mcwt.org if you are in need of additional support.