Tips for Encouraging a Girl in STEM

Assume she is interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. Ask her what classes she is taking and what she is learning.

Ask her how she feels about the science she is learning in school. Find out if there are any teachers or counselors who are particularly supportive. Encourage her to seek them out and go to them for advice or help with school work. Try to connect with them yourself to find out about what kind of support they are offering and if there is more they could do for her.

If a girl expresses concern about getting messy or dirty, help her get past this “eek and yuck” response. Encourage her to think “interesting” and “fascinating” rather than — or along with — “ew, gross.” Help her take small steps to become more comfortable with STEM content and materials. Reflect with her about how some of the biggest messes or mistakes can lead to great

Ask her about her plans for the future. Encourage her to explore fields of work that are not traditionally associated with women.

Introduce her to a variety of role models — especially women — so that she does not limit her

Ask questions about how things might work, and then join her in brainstorming ideas and

Consider your own feelings about math and science and encourage her pursuit of these subjects even if they were difficult for you as a student.

Teach her to replace “I can’t” with “I’ll try” or “I don’t know how. Who can help me learn?”

Encourage persistence. Help her understand that making mistakes is a vital part of STEM, and that making mistakes does not mean that someone is not “good at science”.

Ask her about how she views scientists and what she sees as “science.” Partner with her to discover how STEM is a part of everyday life, that STEM really is everywhere. Help her connect with a local female STEM professional to learn more about the various fields that are exciting opportunities for her future.

Visit a museum, business, or factory together to see real-world uses for math and science.

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