Breaking Barriers: Understanding Why Girls Drift from STEAM and How to Help

The gender disparity in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) fields has long been a challenge for so many people around the world, but it’s particularly concerning when young girls, around the age of 12, start losing interest in these subjects!

At Kai’s Education, we see this trend and understand the urgency to address it. To make meaningful change, it’s crucial to explore why this happens and how we can keep girls engaged and confident in their STEAM pursuits. Here we will explore the various reasons on why young girls are losing interest in STEAM subjects.

The Confidence Gap

One of the primary reasons why young girls turn away from STEAM is the confidence gap. Research has consistently shown that girls often doubt their abilities in STEAM subjects compared to boys. This lack of confidence emerges early and can be attributed to societal stereotypes and a lack of positive reinforcement in STEAM areas. 

 

By middle school, many girls begin to question their capabilities in math and science, even when they perform as well as or better than boys. This self-doubt leads to decreased interest and participation in STEAM activities. It’s not just a personal struggle but a reflection of the broader societal narrative that subtly suggests STEAM is not for girls. Overcoming this confidence gap requires creating an environment where girls are encouraged and celebrated for their achievements in STEAM.

Under-Representation and Lack of Role Models

Another significant barrier is the lack of female role models in STEAM. When girls do not see women who look like them in STEAM roles, they may feel that these fields are not for them. This under-representation is even more pronounced for women of color.

A 2022 study highlighted that students predominantly cited men when asked to name role models in STEAM, with few mentions of women and almost none of women of color. This visibility gap can discourage girls from pursuing STEAM careers, as they may feel isolated or believe they don’t belong in these fields. At Kai’s Education, we strive to showcase diverse role models in STEM to inspire young girls and show them that they can succeed in these areas.


Gender Bias in STEAM Encouragement

The encouragement (or lack thereof) that boys and girls receive to pursue STEAM plays a pivotal role in their future engagement with these fields. We’ve seen from the Geena Davis Institute research reports, that there is indication that boys are more frequently encouraged to take STEAM-related classes and participate in extracurricular STEAM activities, which lays a strong foundation for their sustained interest and success.

 

Conversely, girls often encounter less encouragement and fewer opportunities to delve into STEAM subjects. This disparity often arises from unconscious biases held by educators and parents, who may not view girls as naturally adept at or inclined towards STEAM. Addressing these biases and ensuring that girls receive equal support and encouragement is crucial for fostering their interest and success in STEAM fields.


Celebrating Achievements and Promoting Diversity

At Kai’s Education, we are committed to addressing these challenges head-on. One way we do this is by making coding accessible and engaging for all students, especially young girls. We start with block-based coding, using tools like Block.ly, which offers a visual and intuitive way to learn programming concepts. This method helps build confidence without the intimidation that often comes with text-based coding.

As students become more comfortable, we transition them to text-based coding languages like Python. Our KaiBot in Kainundrum and Swift Playgrounds introduce text-based coding at a younger age, bridging the gap between block coding and more advanced programming. This gradual approach helps demystify text-based coding and makes it more approachable, keeping girls engaged and confident as they advance in their learning.

To combat the lack of role models, we actively celebrate the achievements of women in STEAM and provide diverse examples of successful individuals in these fields. Seeing women and people of color excel in STEM, both in their real personal life, or on screen and in media, can all inspire young girls to help them envision themselves in these roles.

As a company, we do our very best to promote inclusivity within the educational sector, as we want EVERYONE to be able to have the resources to learn to code, which is why we work so adamantly on allowing all to have the ability to use KaiBot or Kai’s Clan, encouraging them regardless of gender identity, is so important to bringing confidence and inspiring young girls across the world into pursuing the future they wish.


Moving Forward: Building a Future of Inclusion

It’s vital to amplify the voices of women in STEAM to inspire young girls. This is especially important for Black and Hispanic women. With young girls showing less interest in STEAM, now is the time to demonstrate that they are welcome and belong in these fields. Let’s make sure every girl knows she can be a scientist, an engineer, or a mathematician– The sky’s the limit!

Remember, fellow teachers: it’s up to us to build that confidence and provide those role models. Let’s ensure our girls know that STEM is for them too!

You can stay connected with KaiBot through exploring more about KaiBot’s offerings on our website. Additionally, you can join the conversation on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook, or on our official Kai’s Education Discord! And you can take a look at KaiBot and let us a review on the Common Sense Selection for Learning website!

Written by Wilbur Schodt (AUT Student)

Scroll to Top