This post was written in partnership with Green Works and Collectively.
A few weeks ago, I interviewed a wildlife biologist for a freelance project. She’s a nationally known expert on North American migratory birds – and I was fascinated by all she had to say on the subject. When I told her that my eleven-year-old daughter was very interested in birds and wildlife as well, the biologist immediately pulled out her business card and handed it to me.
“You said your father still lives near Athens, right?” she said.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well, the next time you all visit him, give me a call. I’d love to show your daughter the wildlife biology program at UGA. She needs to see all that’s going on in our labs there.”
“Wow!” I said. “That would be amazing!” Suddenly, my daughter’s career options expanded in my mind (and so did my secret hope that she ends up at UGA, my alma mater). Before the wildlife biologist left, she told me again, “I’m serious about calling me. I would love to show your daughter the biology program.”
She didn’t need to tell me twice! We are planning a visit this fall.
This conversation came to mind recently when I participated in an inspiring Twitter chat that was organized by Green Works in partnership with the AAUW. The topic: Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). It’s an important conversation, because only one in every 1,000 girls will grow up to become a scientist— and that statistic has to change. With that in mind, Green Works has partnered with AAUW to help more girls grow up and realize their #naturalpotential in the field of science.
Why aren’t more girls interested in STEM fields? A big part of the reason is that scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are generally depicted as being male in books and other media. If there’s going to be a change, girls need mentors, according to Green Works and the AAUW (American Association of University Women)– and that’s when I realized that this is exactly the reason the wildlife biologist was so eager for my daughter to visit the biology labs. If my daughter sees women making a difference in an field that interests her, there’s a much greater chance she’ll decide to pursue a career in that field herself– and as you can see in the above graphic, pursuing a STEM career greatly increases her chances of landing a higher paying job.
We also need more women in STEM because women bring a different, much-needed perspective to these fields. For example, a devoted female scientist led the team years ago that created the laundry & household cleaners that make up Green Works. Now, these products are a staple in millions of households– and we have a woman to thank for them!
So how do we get our daughters on board? The AAUW has some great ideas on how to get girls interested in STEM. And I can tell you as the stepmother of a female math major, the opportunities for women in STEM majors are pretty AMAZING. My stepdaughter was one of very few females in the math department at her college and as a result, she was encouraged and mentored by her professors. She went straight from graduation to a fabulous new math-based job in Maine and I’ve been so pleased by how many doors have opened to her. These industries are clamoring for more women hires- Keep this in the back of your mind as your daughters explore their interests, and encourage those sparks of excitement in math, science, engineering and technology any way you can.
Want to learn more about the Green Works initiative? Check out this video!
Header image via AAUW.
Graphic via GirlsLetsBuild.com.