Jessica Lahey of The Atlantic highlights the alternative, creative routes many women are taking after pursuing STEM degrees.
But what if girls bring a different perspective with them, and choose to navigate their STEM careers differently than boys? What if the traditional paths created and well-worn by generations of men are not the same paths girls follow as they apply their newfound skills to STEM fields? There are plenty of women out there engaged in traditional jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math, but many are forging novel, interdisciplinary, STEM-based careers that blur categories and transcend agenda.
Emily Graslie, scientist, educator, artist, and host of the popular YouTube show The Brain Scoop, recently produced an episode about women in STEM fields, “Where My Ladies At?” Graslie’s own career provides a clue to the location of some of those ladies. They are out there, innovating, designing, researching, and teaching, but because some women in STEM have opted for careers that defy categorization within the acronym, they can be harder to identify…
If our efforts to encourage women’s curiosity and passion for STEM succeed, we need to be prepared for the way female perspectives and approaches could expand the definition and scope of what it means to be STEM professionals. Because women have traditionally been excluded from these disciplines, and because their fresh eyes allow them to make connections between fields, many women are launching careers, and even entire industries, based on a flexible and creative definition of what it means to be a scientist, artist, or engineer. K-12 schools have done a particularly poor job of integrating study across STEM fields and encouraging creativity and interdisciplinary connections. We continue to teach science, technology, and math in isolation, as if they have little to do with one another. This sort of compartmentalized approach runs counter to what we know about effective learning: Students need to be able to connect content knowledge and concepts to real-world applications in order to develop mastery and passion for a subject.
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