Communications Officer, Irish Girl Guides
As we approach the end of 2020, it is disappointing to find that young men are still twice as likely to choose a STEM course at third-level than their female counterparts.
There are a number of reasons for a lack of girls taking STEM courses such as gender stereotyping and the lack of prominent female role models. The fact that some girl-only schools still do not offer applied maths or the same range of science and technology subjects as other second level establishments also plays a role.
Irish Girl Guides (IGG) has been taking steps to encourage girls from age five up to engage in creative and fun ways with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). A number of STEM-related badges have been added to its wide-ranging programme in recent years so that girls can now earn Aviation, Engineering, Space, Science Investigator, STEM and Techno badges.
Education in space and online robotics
The Space badge, which launched two months ago [October], was the result of a partnership with award-winning Space communicator, Dr Niamh Shaw, ESERO Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Blackrock Castle Observatory. It’s already proving a hit with hundreds of girls now busy undertaking space-themed activities, like rocket-building, solar system walks and stargazing. Older girls are learning about Irish women working in the space sector.
Irish Girl Guides has been taking steps to encourage girls from age five up to engage in creative and fun ways with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Since March IGG’s volunteer leaders have adapted their ways of engaging with youth members in order to comply with government guidelines. Most activities are taking place either online, at home, or in small outdoor groups. The most recent LEGO robotics course with Prof Deirdre Butler of Dublin City University’s STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies department took place online. This saw girls designing, building and coding robots.
Making STEM accessible for girls and young women
IGG Chief Executive Officer, Claire Barkey, says the organisation’s volunteer leaders are leading the way supporting girls and women in making STEM accessible.
“We believe we are filling an important gap by introducing girls and young women to STEM and helping them discover how relevant STEM is to address 21st century challenges, like climate change. In this way, we hope some of our youth members will be inspired to pursue careers in male-dominated areas.”