Original article written by Kira Giesen who lives in Calgary and is in Grade 7 at Bearspaw Christian School. (http://calgaryherald.com/health/family-child/female-students-should-consider-stem-education)
In Grade 5, my friend Jaylene and I participated in both our school science fair and the Calgary Youth Science Fair with a project that involved solar-powered race cars and robots.
We placed first in our school and got a silver medal at the city fair. During the fair, many people seemed surprised that we had a robotics project. Why? It’s unfortunate, but people just don’t expect girls to take interest in science and in robotics, while they wouldn’t think twice about a boy.
I love science and it is one of my best subjects. I have girl family members who are doctors and scientists (like my cousin Lakmali in Australia), and many who plan to make it a career one day (like my cousin Hannah, in Toronto). I believe that STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is important for kids our age, and especially girls.
From my research, I believe there are two important reasons why we need women in STEM fields. First, scientists and engineers work to solve real-life issues and problems faced by the world today. To do this, they rely on their own personal experiences. If only men are working to solve the world’s problems, only their experiences will be part of the solution. If there aren’t a lot of women working in STEM, the challenges women face will be overlooked. A simple example — do you know who invented Lego Friends? It wasn’t a man! A geochemist who played with Lego as a kid noticed that there weren’t any figures that looked like her. So she invented an amazing toy (toy inventors are scientists!) that is now involving girls in designing, building, and imagining. Women and men are different and products, solutions, medicines, etc., should address those differences.
My second reason has to do more with basic equality. If you Google the top-paying jobs in North America in 2015, according to Business Insider, nine out of the top 10 highest-paying jobs in North America are in STEM. Women make up half the workforce, but only 27 per cent of all STEM jobs. This, to me, means that women are not making as much money as men. This is a simple equality issue. It doesn’t seem fair to me that one-half of the population is making less than half of the money. Women should try to aim for the jobs that pay the most so we are represented in the economy.
Doing my research for this article, I was surprised about the cool STEM jobs that are out there. With a STEM education, you could have one of these very interesting jobs: video game designer, 3-D printing engineer, storm/tsunami tracker, volcanologist, underwater archaeologist and wildlife rehabilitator. Or an epidemiologist! What’s that, you ask? Epidemiologists study the causes of diseases to prevent them from transmitting and recurring. I think that’s cool — and important!
In 2017, STEM fields are much more open to us today than they were to our mothers 40 years ago. While there still are barriers, women have more opportunity today to do anything they want to do. Of course, if you want to be a teacher or an artist, a cook or a housecleaner, go for it. Part of equality means being able to do whatever you want to do, and it’s important to do what makes you happy. But I believe it’s important for girls to at least give some thought to a possible STEM career. To ensure women have a meaningful place in the future and have the same opportunities as men, these highly respected and important positions need to be more reflective of the population.
Girls — don’t ignore the possibilities that STEM may hold for you, just because you don’t see examples of that today. You could find a very rewarding and meaningful career. You could even change the world!