I explained to my first-grader that I was thinking about the main points I cover whenever I gush about STEM, and I asked her if she could tell me. What was getting through to her? It was a test more for me than it was for her. I felt if my message hadn't gotten through to her, I probably needed to refine it. Here's what she told me.
I don't believe that girls are turned off by STEM because it's hard or simply because girls think they're bad at math. Girls aren't wimps or wilting flowers; they don't shrink from challenges just because something isn't a strength. We, as a culture, just aren't doing a very good job of selling tech to girls.
Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report released its STEM Index of the United States. It revealed that student aptitude for and interest in science, technology, engineering and math has been essentially flat for more than a decade, at the same time that the need for STEM skills continues to grow.
It's not surprising that many women steer away from STEM degrees or STEM careers. Or that many women who start STEM degrees drop out. Or that numbers for career women in technology industry are dismal. A good start in addressing the invisible STEM women might be to reject the explanation of lacking confidence.