Raising our daughters to be the future Women In Science #STEM

I’ve always been incredibly proud of my previous career in the science industry, and am learning to take the same pride in my new found work as a blogger. But what if somehow I could link the two? Wouldn’t that be the dream? As a parent of two daughters, let me start by talking about the importance of Women in science.

Despite my previous workplace being a female dominated environment, the senior management team was heavy on the guys. That was something that always baffled me. And the engineering department workshop floor? In seventeen years I never once saw a female engineering technician. The shift was changing however, and there were so many incredibly talented, inspiring, strong women rising up through the ranks. Women who were something to behold, who knew their stuff and moved mountains to make things happen, and plenty of women who were also mothers, for the record. One remarkable female site director was  one of the strongest and fiercest women I ever met; powerful, intelligent yet also with a warm exterior and personality which undoubtedly carried her far. Although I chose the closure of our workplace to take a career break, whilst my family were young, many of those women have gone on from strength to strength in their science careers. Others have found it harder to find work in an equivalent environment, and some have found that cultures in other science and tech companies had a underwritten culture of prejudice against women in the workplace.

In the science industry to date, the stats say that women choosing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects are still in the minority. The WISE  campaign (Women In Science and Engineering) released figures that were moving in a positive direction, however still just 23% of the workforce in STEM being female in 2017.

Source: https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/resources/2017/10/women-in-stem-workforce-2017

I remember at the GEEK festival earlier this year,  hearing a intelligent young student tell us she was the only girl in her computer course at college. That seems so unbelievable in this age of women challenging inequality.

So as a mum to two bright little girls, how can I encourage them to be women in science of the future? Should that be a path they choose?

Encourage Inquisitivity

To be passionate about science is to have a drive to probe and question. How things work, why that happened, and could it be done differently.

With small kids, often they accept life as it is, but as they grow and start to wonder about all the mysteries of the world around them, have open discussions about the incredible going’s in behind the scenes. The bridges you drive over, the change in the seasons, the rain falling from the sky; it’s all down to science.

Read Fact Books

We all know how important reading is with children, but have you mixed up your Julia Donaldson with something a little different? There are some amazing fact books for children which open up a totally different reading experience – a thirst for information and a source of knowledge that will take your kids a long way. It doesn’t have to be dull, tap into their passions… dinosaurs, Great women,  children’s encyclopedias; the pictures and facts are lapped up by young minds and will be the beginnings of a lifetime of learning.

Teach a love of nature

At a basic level, to love science is to love the world around you. What better way than to show your children a respect and passion for the environment and the natural world.

You don’t need to go to great lengths – planting a few seeds on a windowsill and watching them grow, or creating a small bug hotel out of dead wood and bark are great activities to inspire young minds.

Talk openly about our responsibility to look after our planet, and to limit how we damage it. After all, we are raising the future generation who will have to face huge challenges in our planets resources, and come up with new sources of energy.

Embrace Science, Maths and IT

There’s no getting away from the fact that as a scientist, engineer or technical career, a solid basis begins at the grass roots of some of the less than fluffy subjects at school. Despite perhaps feeling there is little to get excited about when it comes to long multiplication, as a parent it will serve your kids well to engage, encourage and support their learning in these subjects. Help them to see the sense and sensibility in the ability to work through a tricky set of trigonometry, or an arse of an algebra quiz. And, to dispel that age old myth ‘I’m never going to use algebra’, I can tell you, in a career in STEM, it’s at the very core of what we do.

Tap in to external resources

For this generation of children, there are a wealth of resources that weren’t around a few decades ago. The internet for one, but also after school kids science clubs, science fun workshops, and mad science birthday parties. These interactive sessions for kids are a fantastic way to get children excited about science and technology, and are often run in local communities over the school holidays. Of course there are also the national museums which are free to enter, and aside from being educational, are a fantastic way to inspire minds of the future.

Of course, whose to say our daughters will even want a career in science or technology, but for any wealth of reasons they may not, let’s ensure one of those reasons will not be because of their gender.


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13 thoughts on “Raising our daughters to be the future Women In Science #STEM

  1. Sophie Reply

    I felt so inspired reading this. I absolutely loved science in school. I wasn’t particularly good at it mind, but there was always something new to learn. I’m still learning now, I’m always catching up on documentaries, and watching TED talks which I find so fascinating. The world is still young, and so are we! So much to learn about our tiny universe!

  2. Jenny Curtis Reply

    Thank you for such a great post. Science subjects were my chosen ones through school and university and I still hold a curiosity about the world around us because of it. I hope to inspire my daughter to be questioning and inquisitive even if it doesn’t lead to a career in science or engineering. #coolmumclub

  3. Helen - cooking with my kids Reply

    This is a great post – I agree 100% with everything you said. I’ll be happy if my daughter grows up keeping the interest she has in the world and love of numbers she has right now (age 4). #coolmumclub

  4. terri Reply

    I didn’t like science at school but i think it was because it was taught as if it was meant for men but reading this you have inspired me to look at it differently and revisit it so i can encourage my children to love it more than i did. #coolmumclub

  5. Talya (@motherhoodreal) Reply

    Yes to this! I’ve just bought a book of science experiments to do with the little and hoping to crack it open this weekend! I think this is something we should all be nurturing in our girls! Feeling the #coolmumclub STEM love xoxo

  6. theelephantmum Reply

    Loving this, as a woman in science myself (theoretical mathematician then turned software developer).
    Do you know the books “Goodnight stories for rebel girls” 1 & 2? They are full of stories of great women (some scientists). Beside fact books, they can be also great inspiration. When my girl is slightly older I also plan to write some scientist at the local university and ask to bring her in for a visit. I used to work there and I loved when some kid wanted to come and see. That’s also something to try.. go out and ask, scientists love when someone shows interest! In some cases local academia even has events to introduce kids to science 🙂

  7. Morgan Prince Reply

    Fantastic post! I think it’s so important to show young girls what is possible and for them to know their gender doesn’t determine what they can and can’t do. 🙂

  8. Navigating Baby Reply

    Science was never my thing as they were my worst subjects, but I am inspired to try and push that aside to introduce my girls to it. I love the great women in history books. I am buying these for all the little girls having birthdays in my sons class

  9. Island Living 365 Reply

    YES! I am fully behind the STEM campaign and I actively encourage both of my girls to embrace all subjects, including science, IT and Maths based ones. Their dad is an engineer so they are very into learning about this as a career. I just want them to know that there are so many options for them and that the world is their oyster #CoolMumClub

  10. Sarah Reply

    This is really inspirational! I was always strong at Maths and even though I want my daughter to follow in my footsteps and become a lawyer, too, there’s nothing wrong and everything right with encouraging girls to love STEM subjects!

  11. absolutely prabulous Reply

    It’s funny isn’t it? I’m having an absolute crisis because my kids’ school is SO rubbish with languages. I’m appalled that my kids can only do one language after the age of 11 despite having done Spanish all the way through. ALL that schools seem to be into in Malta IS the sciences! It just goes to show, we tend to favour what we’re interested in as I hated science with a capital H and loved languages. One thing I will say is that my eldest raves about her science teacher and credits her with having totally turned around her attitude to the subject. Meanwhile, I saw a really depressing post by a 17 year old girl in a Maltese FB group I belong to, in part mentioning how she is the only female in her engineering A Level course and is totally excluded from participating in the various modules and assignments by the other students and the teacher because of her gender. Love it or hate it, you are right that females MUST be encouraged to enter the science domain more and more. #coolmumclub

  12. The Queen of Collage Reply

    We visited the Science Museum in London recently and the girls loved it. Long may females push the boundaries of stereotypes and break the molds. #coolmumclub

  13. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... Reply

    It is so important for children of both sexes to have equal access to subject opportunities so that they can find their own passions #coolmumclub

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