Three years ago, Neha set up ‘Innovation for Everyone’, designed to spark students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through virtual and in-person innovation sessions. Neha has since reached 54,000 students around the world but her dream is to run sessions with over 100,000 children. As a result of Neha’s efforts, students globally are starting to create solutions to real-world problems.
Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science! Every February 11th, the world comes together to celebrate female scientists and encourage more girls to join science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) fields.
Did you know that women make up only 28% of the workforce in science and engineering jobs? Women are highly under-represented in science at all stages of the pipeline, from the K-12 classrooms to university majors to careers in STEM fields.
The gender gap in STEM is a global problem where a lack of role models, mentorship, and resources is causing an under-representation of women and girls in STEM fields. But why does this matter? When car-accident airbags were invented in the early 1950s, engineers used the “average male” sized crash dummy to test and build the airbags. And because of this, thousands of women and children got injured due to the lack of women inventors designing the product to fit their needs. This is just one example of the effects of the gender gap, and proves that diversity brings more creativity and innovation to the table.
The problem boils down to helping girls get started with STEM at an early age and continuing the support throughout their education and careers.
Current efforts to increase diversity in STEM are a great first step, but we could go so much further in creating an impact on today’s girls and women. I believe that starting young and bridging the gender gap in girls is the key to solving this problem. Here are my top three tips on how we can help girls join and stay in STEM fields:
I’m Neha Shukla, the founder of Innovation for Everyone, an organization where I run global Innovation & STEM workshops for students K-12 and have reached over 54,000 students to-date. I’m so grateful to be a 2021 Diana Award winner and receive support and guidance in growing my outreach.
In my workshops, I share my simple 3-step innovation framework that anyone can use to solve real-world problems and create a positive impact on their community. It has been so heart-warming to see my innovation workshops and global outreach bringing more girls into the picture for STEM.
Girls as young as first and second-graders are coming up with solutions to problems like ocean pollution and bullying within my 45-minute workshops, so imagine the power of these girls if they continue working on their solutions for months or even years.
To all the girls out there, I encourage you to get started with STEM today – find real-world problems in your community and begin learning about technologies and tools you can use to solve them.
And to the adults, companies, and schools, I challenge you to take a small step towards bridging the gender gap in STEM by just saying “yes” when a girl asks for mentorship, support, or guidance.
Girls have the power, creativity, and imagination to change the world with their skills in STEM. So let’s come together and build the next generation of girl scientists, innovators, and problem-solvers!