Seventeen years ago, on any given day, if you had walked into my bedroom you would have found the “usual” toy suspects. A glass case next to my bed housed over 30 dolls, all of different races and body types. Small trinkets on my bookshelf contained piles and piles of jewelery, which I prided myself in selecting and displaying. These “usual” suspects are commonly assumed to be a girl’s best friend, and they did indeed play a significant role in my life.
However, there were also some “unusual” suspects that were just as pridefully displayed on my bedroom shelves. On any given day, I was just as likely to be playing with dolls as I was to be observing the tendencies of flies in the backyard, or playing with my beginner chemistry set. My interest in science was cultivated at a very young age because of toys like these, extra classes and schooling, positive female role models in STEM fields, and an endless stream of teachers, family, and friends who believed that I could become the world’s next scientist. However, many young girls today do not have the luxury of even knowing what STEM fields are or envisioning themselves beyond their neighborhood block. Given this scenario, it is no wonder that only one in seven engineers is female and that women have seen no employment growth in STEM jobs since 2000 ( U.S. Department of Commerce,2011).
Forbes.com recently published an article discussing the lack of women in STEM fields and the ways in which this gender gap may stem from unconscious bias and popular culture. Furthermore, and better yet, the article describes the ways in which we can potentially fill these gender gaps by creating programs that will encourage women to study tech, reworking the K-12 curriculum, and combatting stereotypes.
At STEM from Dance, we are trying to incorporate each of these solutions into our program . Young teen girls will be encouraged to study science and potentially go into STEM fields as they excel in their math and science classes with the help of our math and science tutoring services that will supplement each student’s coursework. Furthermore, as each student is exposed to different types of STEM fields, and sees how these fields contribute to our society, she will be more equipped to envision herself in new and exciting roles, and to propel herself towards this goal. This additional perspective along with the supplemental math and science tutoring will enable us in our own way to “rework the K-12 curriculum”. Lastly, dance will instill in these girls a type of confidence and self-esteem that will empower them to maintain motivation, develop leadership and communication skills through choreography, experience positive interactions with other girls, and stay physically active! All of these solutions will enable us to combat stereotypes and promote the next generation of female scientists, engineers, and innovators.
We are excited to embark on this journey to close the gender gap, and we hope that you will follow us and support us in our mission!