What do a children’s book author, an entrepreneur, the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA and a director at the Museum of Science in Boston have in common?
They’re all working on ways to get young girls more involved in science, technology, engineering and math.
Referred to as STEM, these fields are a key part of our future, specifically when it comes to new jobs and careers. And yet, young girls and women are still facing barriers to enter these areas.
That’s why the four women from the variety of careers listed above came together in Boston recently for a forum called “Cracking the Code: The Next Generation of Women in STEM,” hosted by the Atlantic.
“A recent study showed that girls at 6, 7 years old already start thinking that boys are better at STEM then they are. That suggests to me that we are starting way, way, way too late,” children’s author Andrea Beaty said at the forum. “Being comfortable with ideas of exploration has to become part of their DNA, so that when they get to school, they hit the ground running joining [STEM] programs.”
In Beaty’s books, main characters are in STEM fields, like “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Ada Twist, Scientist.” She has a background in science herself and only began writing children’s books once she had kids of her own.
“I don’t think about these books as being about engineering and science, but about perseverance and curiosity,” she said.
For Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits, that curiosity was important in her own path toward STEM. Growing up in Beirut, she always tinkered and took things apart. Her company puts electronic toys into kids’ hands so that they can build things, beyond what Legos allow.