Here’s a shocking statistic: After age 16, while 94% of boys choose to study at least one STEM subject (science, technology, engineering and maths), just 35% of girls do. The proportion diminishes even more depressingly. According to some surveys, less than 13% of the STEM workforce is female.
Which is why the energy company EDF set up its #PrettyCurious campaign. EDF is committing to ensuring at least 30% of its STEM trainees are female, along with the aim to get girls interested in STEM more generally by encouraging them to see the subjects as potentially fun. To that end, in a paid project with BritMums, EDF provided the daughters of five bloggers with a R2D2 robot to build.
Their experiences were interesting in what they showed about girls and STEM!
Bloggers get their daughters to be #PrettyCurious
Kirstie of Family Adventure Project reports: “[My son] keeps trying to take over. When he realizes there’s no way he’s going to get his hands on the electronics, he assumes control of the instructions app on the iPod and tries to direct. When the electronics fail to work first time he wants to take over. It makes me wonder if women in engineering and science have the added task of managing the men in engineering and science too.” (A son wanting to take charge of the project was something that Penny of Parentshaped also observed…)
Angela of the Inspiration Edit points out. “When I was a teenager, many girls took cooking and sewing classes, whilst the boys studied graphic design, woodwork and technology. I didn’t think much of it at the time but the reality is I was not encouraged as a female to undertake STEM subjects and certainly not to go into a STEM career.”
STEM – a great place for careers for girls
Girls may no longer be coerced to bake and embroider at school but, as the statistics show, not enough has been done to encourage them not to. Inspire your daughter to think about careers in STEM with this great film EDF have produced.
It’s worth it. This is their future. As Angela says in her post: “Research shows that STEM careers such as engineering and technology will rise at double the rate of other occupations between now and 2023.”
Where are their role models?
One thing that everyone can agree on is the importance of female role models and the film profiles women with amazing jobs and opportunities thanks to their STEM qualifications.
But if you don’t know any female research scientists, coders or engineers, there are more manageable ways of getting your girls interested in STEM – finding subjects that they are drawn to and building in a scientific slant.
How to appeal to your daughter’s interests
Emma of Science Sparks writes that her daughters are “very interested in the environment so we’ve tried burying different items in the ground to observe how they decompose”. And Michelle of Mummy from the Heart made her own short film speaking to teenage girls from different countries about how they have been encouraged to study STEM subjects (click on her blog name to see it).
Michelle’s Facebook post about the project inspired followers. Gemma Kett wrote: “I absolutely love the idea of this! Where can we get the kits from? My daughter loved her electronics kit and I can see this getting the same level of play and taking her interest to the next level!” EDF answered: “Hi Gemma, the @littlebits Droid Inventor kits can be bought from a few places including Apple, Argos and Amazon http://amzn.to/2kNDJXo.”
All our bloggers’ posts on #PrettyCurious have captured their followers’ imaginations.
“So glad to see large companies doing something to reverse the ‘science is for boys’ mindset that seems so engrained before kids even leave primary school these days!” says one of Emma’s Facebook fans.
One of Penny’s Twitter followers comments: “It is the parents who need convincing, not the girls! Old attitudes need to be brought up-to-date.”
What you can do next for your daughter
That sounds like a positive call to action to us. You can be the person to get your daughter excited about the fabulous STEM career ahead of her! Some things you can do right now:
- Share the Pretty Curious virtual reality 360 video https://www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious/futureme/virtualreality
- Get your daughter to take the quiz for teens (https://www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious/futureme/quiz) that tells them STEM careers they might like
- Discover the programme of activities EDF has created and sign up for updates https://www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious/stem-studio
- Show your daughter what her Future Me could be like with the Future Me section of the EDF site, where she can build an avatar according to her interests and be inspired by other girls & women (including a Google Science Fair winner who is only 18 years old!) https://www.edfenergy.com/prettycurious/futureme
- Read all the parents’ posts!
- Kirstie at The Family Adventure Project — Move Over Boys: It’s the Girls’ Turn to be Pretty Curious
- Angela at The Inspiration Edit — Star Wars and Pretty Curious Inspires Girls
- Emma at Science Sparks — #PrettyCurious with EDF Energy
- Michelle at Mummy from the Heart — You Can Be Who You Want to Be. Stay #PrettyCurious
- Penny from Parent Shaped — How to Get Girls Pretty Curious about STEM
This BritMums project, part of the #PrettyCurious Campaign, was sponsored by EDF Energy. Bloggers’ opinions are their own.