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How Failure Big Brands and Men Can Help Close the Gender Gap in STEM

Pursuing a career in STEM can be a challenge for any student, but research suggests that the path for women in STEM can be particularly difficult. Thankfully, the call to support more women and girls as they pursue STEM is clear, and there are many organizations and initiatives that have joined the movement. Three recent articles highlight strategies for improving female engagement in STEM:
•Provide surmountable obstacles. In the Huffington Post, middle school science teacher Julie Rohl explains that she facilitates success in her female STEM students by helping them maintain enthusiasm as they hurdle from one failure to another—learning from their mistakes and honing their problem-solving skills along the way. “If we let them explore learning, failure, collaboration and success,” she writes, “we will surely lead them on a path to leadership, innovative thinking and ultimately more girls exploring careers in STEM-related fields.”

•Use empowerment marketing. Verizon recently released a powerful marketing campaign about the subtle ways we discourage young women from choosing and exceling inmath and science. As Adweek reports, it’s just one example of a big brand extending its message beyond a simple advertisement to help get more girls interested in STEM. Other companies are using music, engineering competitions and rewards for teachers—all aimed at inspiring young women to pursue education and careers in STEM.

•Foster a culture of inclusion. In the Washington Post, James LaPlaine, senior vice president of technology operations at AOL, asserts that there’s one key to getting more women in the technology field that isn’t getting enough attention: men. Namely, men need to take responsibility to create a culture of inclusion and to do their part to show that sexism, dismissiveness, and prejudice against women in tech won’t be tolerated. “Anyone taking a pragmatic approach to hiring the best and brightest will realize that we are missing a large part of the population if women remain under-represented,” he writes.

NMSI understands the critical need to empower America’s young female minds through STEM. We are lending our own form of support through programs such as our College Readiness Program, and we have seen tremendous results. Last year, the number of average passing scores for females enrolled in our program increased by 87 percent after the first year – nearly 10 times the national average – and the number of passing scores over the course of the three-year program was 200%. We know first-hand that any student – male and female – can make it in STEM, as long as they have a strong foundation and the proper support.