Strategies for Females to Support Themselves in STEM

Below are selected ways girls and young women can support themselves in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The strategies are numbered for easy reference but do not suggest a prioritized list.  

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1. Be aware that effort and appropriate experiences, rather than natural ability, are mainly responsible for success in the STEM disciplines. Work hard to build your STEM knowledge and skills, and seek good STEM opportunities and experiences. Continue to "stretch" yourself.

2. Take an active part in school STEM activities. For example, handle equipment and tools, such as manipulative materials, calculators, measuring tools, and lab equipment, during learning tasks and serve as group spokesperson as often as other students.  

3. Share your thinking and work in class. Be willing to suggest approaches to tasks. Discuss strategies and solutions with classmates and work collaboratively (when permitted) to complete tasks. Ask questions that help you clarify and extend your understanding.

4. Try different approaches to tasks. For example, if you complete a task one way, see if you can complete it using a different method. Consider trying some creative strategies. Similarly, explore how computers work in an open-ended manner and not only by following a set of procedures.

5. Seek to understand how and why things work the way they do. For example, why does length times width give the area of a rectangle? What does the Pythagorean Theorem really mean, and what would it look like if you were to show it with a drawing that starts with a right triangle?

6. Hold high expectations of yourself. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and strive to improve your weaker areas of knowledge and skill. Challenge yourself to take on some tasks that seem unclear or difficult. Think of making mistakes as normal human activity that presents good learning opportunity.

7. Join voluntary in-school and out-of-school programs and find and use good print and online resources as ways to improve your STEM knowledge and skills. All STEM areas, such as algebra and biology, are important. However, pay particular attention to areas in which females sometimes perform or participate at lower levels than males: geometry, measurement, spatial skills, earth science, physics, and chemistry. Spatial skills, for example, are important skills used in everyday life and careers such as engineering, and they relate to performance in math. They can be improved by playing sports, doing puzzles, building and taking apart things (using Legos, model sets/kits, etc.), playing games such as Tangoes and Tetris, and so forth. Examples of other things you might do alone or with a friend are to explore high-quality websites, attend a summer camp, or join an in- or out-of-school computer club.

8. Seek help from qualified others when needed, after you have first made a good effort on your own. Also, work collaboratively with peers. For example, join or form study or support groups. 

9. Seek help from qualified others when needed, after you have first made a good effort on your own. Also, work collaboratively with peers. For example, join or form study or support groups. 

10. Join voluntary in-school and out-of-school programs and find and use good print and online resources as ways to improve your STEM knowledge and skills. All STEM areas, such as algebra and biology, are important. However, pay particular attention to areas in which females sometimes perform or participate at lower levels than males: geometry, measurement, spatial skills, earth science, physics, and chemistry. Spatial skills, for example, are important skills used in everyday life and careers such as engineering, and they relate to performance in math. They can be improved by playing sports, doing puzzles, building and taking apart things (using Legos, model sets/kits, etc.), playing games such as Tangoes and Tetris, and so forth. Examples of other things you might do alone or with a friend are to explore high-quality websites, attend a summer camp, or join an in- or out-of-school computer club.

11. Hold high expectations of yourself. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and strive to improve your weaker areas of knowledge and skill. Challenge yourself to take on some tasks that seem unclear or difficult. Think of making mistakes as normal human activity that presents good learning opportunity.

12. Seek to understand how and why things work the way they do. For example, why does length times width give the area of a rectangle? What does the Pythagorean Theorem really mean, and what would it look like if you were to show it with a drawing that starts with a right triangle?

13. Seek to understand how and why things work the way they do. For example, why does length times width give the area of a rectangle? What does the Pythagorean Theorem really mean, and what would it look like if you were to show it with a drawing that starts with a right triangle?

14. Hold high expectations of yourself. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and strive to improve your weaker areas of knowledge and skill. Challenge yourself to take on some tasks that seem unclear or difficult. Think of making mistakes as normal human activity that presents good learning opportunity.