Happy National STEM/STEAM Day
Bowling Green, KY. (November 8, 2019) – National STEM/STEAM Day is November 8, a day that encourages us to recognize the skills and tools children need to succeed in this world of science and technology.
The importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines first began to gain national attention in the early 21st century, when education and workforce development studies increasingly showed that U.S. students and workers were not achieving in science, mathematics and technology at the same pace as other Western counties. A report by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, emphasized the links between prosperity, knowledge-intensive jobs dependent on science and technology, and the need for continued innovation to address societal problems. The report recommended that the United States update the K-12 education system in science and technology, and schools have since worked to integrate STEM competencies into their standard curriculum — efforts driven by bipartisan support.
This year we have much to celebrate when it comes to STEM education. While there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, we would like to celebrate
the progress that has been made in engaging women and girls in STEM education. While girls and boys perform evenly in math and science in standardized tests, women make up only 28% of the science and engineering workforce. In a March 2018 blog post, Connected Nation Celebrates Women in Technology, we acknowledge the role that women played in advancing computing and internet technology and supported continued efforts in inclusion of women and girls in technology jobs. Yet we have experienced a decline of women in the science and technology workforce over the last few decades.
That’s why, on National STEM/STEAM Day, we are excited to congratulate the Broadcom Masters National STEM competition’s top-five winners – all of whom are girls. This is the first time in the competition’s history that the top winners were girls. Additionally, this is the first year that more girls than boys were chosen as finalists out of over 2,000 submissions. These finalists were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers.
According to Forbes, “Getting this far was no easy task. Each student had to participate in a local science fair that is affiliated with the Society for Science & the Public. At those fairs, located across the nation, only the top 10% were eligible to apply to be a finalist. This year there was 2,348 students that applied from 47 states, Washington D.C. and two U.S. territories.”
The challenge is ensuring that these achievements will translate into job opportunities as the students get older and enter the workforce. We must embrace their success, acknowledge that these kids have the skills to compete with their male counterparts, and ensure we have a workforce that’s committed to overcoming gender disparities in science.
About the Author: Heather Gate is the Director of Digital Inclusion for Connected Nation. She is responsible for strategy development and implementation of programs that impact Digital Inclusion for all people in all places. She provides project management services including identification of program challenges and goals as well as day-to-day oversight and funding research. Heather also serves on the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE).
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