Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Girl Scouts Release Research Affirming Girls' Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Today the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) released a new study affirming girls’ interest in STEM. Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, says that while a majority of today’s girls have a clear interest in STEM, they don’t prioritize STEM fields when thinking about their future careers.

This latest offering from GSRI shows 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM subjects. Further, 82 percent of girls see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM.” And yet, few girls consider it their number-one career option: 81 percent of girls interested in STEM are interested in pursuing STEM careers, but only 13 percent say it’s their first choice. Additionally, girls express that they don’t know a lot about STEM careers and the opportunities afforded by these fields, with 60 percent of STEM-interested girls acknowledging that they know more about other careers than they do about STEM careers.

Girls are also aware that gender barriers persist in today’s society: 57 percent of those studied concur that if they were to pursue a STEM career, they would “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.”

“The Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama (GSNCA) have a proud history of supporting girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math through our robust programs,” said Trish Coghlan, GSNCA CEO.  “This study by the Girl Scout Research Institute affirms how important it is for all of us to support girls at a young age and make learning about STEM fun and engaging.”
Generation STEM notes the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM hold the most appeal. STEM-interested girls take an active, inquisitive approach to engaging in science, technology, engineering and math: a high percentage like to solve problems (85%), build things and put things together (67%), do hands-on science projects (83%), and ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions (80%). Girls enjoy the hands-on aspect of exploration and discovery and recognize the benefits of a challenge: 89 percent of all girls agree that “obstacles make me stronger.”

Girl Scouts’ relationship with AT&T constitutes one such partnership. GSNCA and AT&T have joined together to advance underserved high-school girls in science and engineering. As minority students and women gravitate away from science and engineering toward other professions, and employment in STEM fields is increasing at a faster pace than in non-STEM fields, educational experts say the U.S. must increase proficiency and interest in these areas to compete in the global economy. GSNCA and AT&T are tackling this issue with an IMAGINE grant, designed to spark STEM interest in Birmingham city and Huntsville city high schools.

For the full report, visit www.girlscoutsnca.org/STEMadvocacy.

About Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama
2012 is the Year of the Girl! To get involved, visit our 100th anniversary link at www.girlscoutsnca.org/100. Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is a United Way community partner and serves 15,300 girls ages 5-17 and 5,000 volunteers across 36 counties. For more information on becoming a member, volunteering or pathway opportunities, call 800-734-4541 or visit www.girlscoutsnca.org.