Encouraging the Next Generation to be GEMS

By  0 Comments

Over the past decade, the phrase “Girl Power!” has shifted from a cartoon-affiliated battle cry to a strong and viable movement for women.

I t’s no secret that women are a force to be reckoned with and a voice that can no longer be silenced. From the grassroots initiatives to world-wide feminist movements, women make their presence known in every facet of life.

Yet an area of concern for entrepreneurs and employers is the lack of women representing the tech career path. While women make up 47 percent of the U. S. work force, they represent only 26 percent of people who work in STEM, or science, technology, engineering or math. The shift in increasing this representation is slow, but progress is being made thanks to a plethora of online organizations working to eliminate the gender gap in STEM. These groups also know the key to achieving equality in the STEM is to reach out to those who hold the hope of the next generation; our world’s young girls who dream of being scientists, mathematicians, engineers and tech gurus.

One such organization supporting girls and their ambitions is GEMS: Girls Excelling in Math and Science. Started in 1994 by a teacher, Laura Reasoner Jones, GEMS’ goal has always been to promote and encourage girls to participate in STEM courses and consider careers in a typically male-dominated field. Reasoner Jones made it her mission to equip her own daughters with the tools and the mindset necessary to tackle any academic challenge they faced and, in doing so, developed GEMS. Through extracurricular clubs and conferences, she cultivated a mission of spreading the same tenacity and dedication she saw in herself to other girls in desperate search of validation.

“Girls are vastly under-represented in the STEM fields, both in college and in the world of work,” she shared via the GEMS downloadable toolkit. “This means that our daughters and your young friends are missing out on exciting, challenging careers with opportunities for high salaries and long-term growth potential. It also means that the world at large is missing out on the dreams and contributions of almost half of the population. What problems could be solved, discoveries made, or diseases cured when more girls and women are working on our world’s challenges? We will never know unless we invite and encourage more girls to explore these enticing fields.”

It’s no secret that most of us think math is hard and science is tough, but the good news is that today’s girls are smart and resilient. Supportive initiatives such as The GEMS Club ensures girls in elementary and middle school can follow their STEM career aspirations if they apply themselves and are willing to navigate obstacles. By revealing how creative, interesting and potentially lucrative subjects such as engineering and art are, GEMS hopes to develop and foster a level of confidence in our future female leaders. With fun and educational offerings such as AppZap2017 Camp, Squishy Circuits learning activities, reflection cards that encourage club members to think about their experiences and MakerEd initiatives, the GEMS team believes that the people who build technology should represent the people who use it.

While parents understand that they shouldn’t push their children into one career over another, they also know it is important to expand their child’s scope when exploring interests and possible future careers. Teaching girls to know that anything is possible, and they aren’t at a disadvantage whatsoever, is a giant step in the right direction. To also support and facilitate exploration of STEM passions among our tweens and teens is a popular event known as Girl Day, a national campaign that helps introduce girls to the wide reach of engineering. Women of all ages and backgrounds serve as role models to educate girls on the ways engineering and technology, and consequently women, have changed the world for the better.

Girl Day is February 22, 2018, and GEMS is one of the many partners encouraging and participating in the movement. Not only is it crucial to equip girls with the tools they need to face adversity with strength and knowledge, it’s also important they know it’s possible to do it together. STEM careers tend to be significantly more lucrative than non-STEM jobs, with women in science earning 33 percent more than women in all other fields. Closing the gender gap in science will help to close gender gaps in income as well, yet another victory for women in the workplace. By working together and through valuable organizations such as GEMS, the opportunities for girls are as endless as the rewarding experiences they will have access to as adults.

If you wish to be a part of the process, visit their website for more information on how to help encourage and motivate young females to be the best they can be. ■

Sources: discovere.org, gemsclub.org, girlswhocode.com, millionwomenmentors.com, nms.org and shesthefirst.org.