Reasons to Build STEM Skills (Even When She’s Not Going into a STEM Career)
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) has been getting a lot of attention and a lot of press lately. And while STEM has always been a part of the Girl Scout movement, Girl Scouts of the USA recently released new STEM badges and unveiled STEM as one of the four pillars of Girl Scouts! Why? Because we want girls to be the innovators, creators, and change makers of our future and that includes STEM fields where women are traditionally under-represented.
But what if your girl doesn’t want to be a scientist or a coder? What if she loves literature and really wants to be a mystery writer? Or is an unstoppable soccer player and dreams of playing on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team? Is there a benefit to encouraging her to do STEM activities and badges if she’s sure she’s not going to pursue a STEM career? Why yes, yes there is!
Here are just a few of the benefits of building STEM skills for people in non-STEM careers.
Problem Solving Processes
STEM teaches girls to use processes like the engineering design process or the scientific method to solve problems and construct theories. And they don’t have to apply those techniques only to science- or engineering-related issues.
Problem solving and analytical thinking are key skills needed in today’s world, no matter the chosen career path. Consider the steps in the engineering design process below.
Can you think of many different problems in your career (and life in general) where using a process like this would be beneficial? From building the optimal playbook for your soccer team to designing merchandise displays that promote good traffic flow in your new store, there are so many ways to use this process that limiting it to STEM seems silly.
STEM programming that use these processes helps girls build critical thinking skills and promotes creativity and adaptability. All excellent life skills for girls to master!
Failure as Part of a Process
Another excellent tenet of STEM programming is that mistakes are considered a normal part of the learning process. Everyone makes them, even highly educated people in STEM fields. There’s even a Twitter hashtag, #FailingInSTEM, where scientists are sharing their failures. This hashtag was started by a PhD student who wanted the world to know that regular, fallible people do science.
STEM programming’s “we’ll either succeed, or we’ll learn something” mentality is particularly beneficial to girls, who often need reminded that perfection is not the goal in their career or life (nor is striving for it healthy).
The pressure of perfection “according to some studies, this is something that largely affects women. A US survey in 2009 found that women are also more likely than men to experience feelings of inadequacy at home and at work, and a larger proportion felt they failed to meet their own standards.” (source)
STEM skills are LIFE SKILLS!
Not quite convinced yet? Check out some of the key STEM skills from an article about understanding STEM Skills published by Minnesota State.
- Analytical skills to research a topic, develop a project plan and timeline, and draw conclusions from research results.
- Science skills to break down a complex scientific system into smaller parts, recognize cause and effect relationships, and defend opinions using facts.
- Mathematic skills for calculations and measurements.
- Attention to detail to follow a standard blueprint, record data accurately, or write instructions.
- Technical skills to troubleshoot the source of a problem, repair a machine or debug an operating system, and computer capabilities to stay current on appropriate software and equipment.
If you were hiring for a position, wouldn’t you want your candidates to possess these skills? We sure would! So help your girl develop these critical life skills by promoting participation in STEM workshops, events, badges, and education opportunities.