Proof that the key to leading more girls to STEM careers lies inside elementary school. First grade is key.
Update curriculum to be uniform and useful. For example, the parts of a plant (roots, stem, stamen, etc.) were taught to my kids for four years in a row at the same school. (Using the same worksheet for three out of four.) Uniform curriculum? Yep. Useful? In an agrarian society, yes. In ours? No.
In contrast, the basic physical concepts of lift and drag- which keep airplanes aloft- were not in my kids’ elementary school curriculum or any of our friends’ kids’ curriculum…as of 2012, 109 years after powered flight began. Despite the simplistic nature of the plant diagram and that organic food is key to life, powered flight is way more central to my career than farming.
Require elementary school teachers (mostly women) to take STEM 101 concept courses. If female teachers model confidence and mastery, girls can more readily see themselves mastering these subjects too.
The question is, can the tech and engineering industries support university /CE training for elementary school teachers in STEM 101 concepts? Yes they can. And specific to women elementary teachers, can we improve confidence and mastery in these areas?
If an English major like myself could learn enough about the concepts of lift and drag online to explain them clearly to my nine year old daughter, then I assure you, yes we can.