<p>Living in the current technological world, full of opportunities, significant<br>advancements, and possibilities might make one think that men and women are finally living<br>at peace and that the biggest issue they face has to do with which latest device they are<br>going to acquire, but... that is not completely true. Gender inequality is far away from not<br>being considered a global problem, women and young girls are still at a disadvantage in<br>terms of, for example, education and work for the XXI century, which in the last decade has<br>evolved to be based on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)<br>approach, and not so long ago on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and<br>mathematics).<br>According to the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations<br>Development Programme (UNDO, 2015), scientific and technological development are the<br>basis of human interaction and existence, which require more and more participation of<br>scientists and engineers that enhance innovation, improvement, and consolidation of<br>processes, procedures, methods, and strategies that end poverty, protect the planet, and<br>ensure that people all around the world can enjoy a better quality of life.<br>Despite the importance of having more and more people involved in STEM areas,<br>women’s participation in STEM and STEAM education and employment equals only 30%<br>around the world, and in some specific regions, they only represent 5% to 10% (Unesco,<br>2017). In a globalized world that progressively depends on technology, women and young<br>girls will lose the possibility to grow personally and professionally, by contributing to the<br>solution of the problems in education, the environment, the economy, etc., unless they<br>become involved in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics fields, even<br>better if they get involved in transversal projects, which is precisely the STEM and STEAM<br>approaches.<br>Acknowledging this problem, from its causes to the possible consequences, needs<br>to become part of any conversation involving kids. “Kids are the future,” that is correct, but<br>the future is here, and girls, as much as boys, deserve to feel interested in, and needed by<br>science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, women and young girls need to be<br>recognized and validated (somehow) to participate and contribute to these areas from home<br>and school, at a young age or not. Therefore, the question is, where is this problem coming<br>from and how can we solve it?</p> <p>Why do girls not feel interested in STEM areas?<br>Surprisingly, the problem comes from family and school. At early stages of children's<br>education at home, parents or keepers transmit to kids the idea that activities for boys are<br>different from the ones girls should be part of. Think about how, at Christmas, girls get dolls<br>and home appliances as presents, while boys get science kits for learning robotics and<br>lately, kits for learning to code. Of course, this is not a general rule and there are several<br>implications like familiar, individual, and sociocultural factors that should be considered too,<br>but the scene has been normalized for generations. The consequence is simple, children<br>establish their interests in completely different fields that later, at school, will enhance<br>stereotypes about professions in science and engineering, making girls go for careers in<br>other fields but STEM/STEAM because, since the beginning, they have been taught that<br>their capacities, abilities, and intelligence should be focused on something “different,”<br>“easier,” “girlier,” etc.<br>Women’s interest has become a major concern and point of reference for<br>transforming career stereotypes, in Canada, institutions are including more inclusive<br>language and are aiming to get more young women to enroll at colleges and universities to<br>go for STEM related degrees. According to https://www.educanada.ca/, there is a great<br>amount of “...world-leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)<br>programs at colleges and universities across [the country],” considering that Canada is the<br>8th country to share high-quality research outputs from academic institutions in the field of<br>natural sciences, biology and microbiology, physics, and environmental sciences are great<br>options to bear in mind when selecting a professional path, for example.</p> <p>How can we make girls feel interested in STEM areas?<br>Although solving the issue of girls’ participation in STEM and STEAM programs<br>depends widely on the transformation of the educational system, and the sociocultural<br>constructs of family roles taught at home, it is not impossible. Gómez and Duque (2019),<br>propose some alternatives that can help girls get involved in science-related fields, at an<br>early age, with the help of parents, teachers, and caregivers in their life.</p> <p>Tips to make girls get involved in science, technology, engineering, arts, and<br>mathematic (STEAM) areas<br>1. Adults, in any context, at any time, must avoid expressions, comments, signs, and<br>statements that reinforce gender stereotypes, for example: “Boys are better at math<br>than girls,” acknowledging the importance of words is key for children's education<br>and personal development, assertive and positive communication can make a<br>difference in children’s behavior.<br>Encourage girls with words, make them feel capable, and teach them with love and<br>patience that they can do whatever they want, even if it means they will get dirty and<br>will look a little less girly.<br>2. Motivate and promote girls’ interests in activities related to STEM skills. This will be<br>a lot easier to accomplish if you set an example and act as a “partner in crime.” From<br>watching TV shows for kids based on science to learning about coding with them<br>can enhance the idea of wanting to build robots when you are an 8-year-old girl.<br>3. Enhancing the special abilities that are directly related to women’s interest and<br>performance in, for instance, mathematics, games and sports activities are the<br>answer here. Work with building blocks, geometric figures, mosaics, patterns,<br>sequences, puzzles, etc., these are great options for accomplishing this objective,<br>as well as building cars, robots, and even dolls, by following instructions.</p> <p>4. Teaching practices at school should allow girls to obtain a different perspective on<br>STEAM fields. It might sound difficult, but it is not. In science, manipulation activities<br>such as experiments and construction are great tools, and in literature, teachers can<br>focus on reading stories about women in science, innovation, and scientific<br>discoveries made by them. All the above, by avoiding the reinforcement of<br>competitive environments, women usually learn and work better collaboratively.</p> <p>5. Finally, girls are, can, and should be self-efficient, making them aware of that fact<br>will enhance their capacity for autonomous learning and self-reflection, which will<br>lead ultimately to coming closer to STEM knowledge, skills and their features.</p> <p>The current globalized world, and concepts like global villages and world citizens,<br>have reinforced the necessity of having more people working on science, technology,<br>engineering, and mathematics. Men and women, their similarities, and differences, can<br>contribute equally to solving problems that will improve the quality of life of humanity. It is<br>our job as parents, teachers, and keepers to propend for the participation of young girls in<br>science, from home and school, united efforts will allow them to switch their mindset,<br>abandon sociocultural stereotypes, and move forward a path of innovation, problem-solving<br>and better opportunities.<br>References<br>Gómez, M. y Duque, M. (June, 2019). Brechas. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from:<br>https://www.pequenoscientificos.org/uploads/7/6/6/4/76644211/brechas_genero.pdf<br>Sustainable development goals: United Nations Development Programme. UNDP.</p> <p>(2015). Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-<br>goals?utm_source=EN&amp;utm_medium=GSR&amp;utm_content=US_UNDP_PaidSearch_Brand</p> <p>_English&amp;utm_campaign=CENTRAL&amp;c_src=CENTRAL&amp;c_src2=GSR&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjw48<br>OaBhDWARIsAMd966DybKupN60gomLEbYEHS0qacZQgErbh2WUPP9KJkmBZ0DTPay<br>EW30AaAidCEALw_wcB<br>Unesco. (2017). Cracking the code girls' and Women's education in Science,<br>Technology, Engineering and mathematics (Stem). Retrieved October 20, 2022, from<br>https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000253479?posInSet=1&amp;queryId=65f5a010-<br>ea5b-47a1-b6cd-aad013fea849</p>