Changing the Mindset to Allow More Girls into STEM

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Do you come from a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Let me explain what I mean. If you believe that intelligence is fixed at birth or that it is gender-based, then you have a fixed mindset. If you have a growth mindset, you then think of intelligence, creativity and such, as things we can develop.

Why am I talking about mindsets? Because I believe, they are the ones holding us women back from embracing technology. The truth is, very few of our girls pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and even fewer graduate. Statistics show only 30-35% of the students in technology are women. In addition, they graduate with lower scores compared to those of male students. This is associated with the stereotypes and prejudices associated with these courses.

The question is why?

When I decided to pursue a degree in technology, I had more than one person discourage me. “It’s a difficult course to pursue”, some said. “Why don’t you try easier courses meant for women?” said another one. One had the audacity to try and convince my parents not to take me for the course, stating that it would be a waste of their money. They had deemed me a failure even before I started the course. I was a woman and therefore to them, I had neither the brains nor the ability to take and pass a course in technology.

Does it get easier when you join the workforce? Not at all. It is time to code, do not worry, we shall give you the easiest parts to code. Pulling cables? Worry not, just sit and observe, as this is not a job for women. We are seen as intruders in a male-dominated field and risk rejection. When will we learn?

Imagine a girl growing up in such an environment. What do we expect her to believe? You guessed it right. Unless we change our mindset as a community we will always have fewer girls in technology. Why worry about the number of women in technology? We are in a technological era. Some of these technologies can help us to effectively respond to the challenges in our society such as poverty, food insecurity, diseases, and such. Therefore, the bigger the workforce the better.

Therefore, mentor that girl/woman in your life, no matter how young she is. Let her know that her gender does not define her mental abilities. She can be anything she sets her mind to. Encourage her, support her. Be the anchor she needs in her life.