By Allison VanNest, Head of Communications at littleBits
Last week, we posted a quote on Facebook from Ayah Bdeir, littleBits’ founder and CEO, that said: “At littleBits we strongly believe that gender neutrality is essential for encouraging girls to pursue STEM and STEAM.”
We were surprised to see some pushback in the comments — specifically, from people who felt that by encouraging girls we were somehow excluding boys. But we don’t see it like that at all.
We see it like this: Our kids are fast-heading towards a world of AI, self-driving cars, and space travel. They need to learn different skills than we have today so they can succeed in the future of work. And women, to be competitive, need to be better-represented.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be encouraging boys to pursue STEM — we absolutely should. It’s just that only 20 percent of STEM jobs are held by women. That statistic hasn’t changed in 20 years. In fact, by high school, only 36 percent boys and 11 percent girls are interested in STEM. That number is abysmally low across the board — but even worse for girls.
One way we’ve found to inspire girls from an early age is to introduce them female role models. Read more about some of the women we admire who invented the world they wanted to live in, and how they made an impact on our lives. GRACE HOPPER
Did you know that Grace was one of the first computer programmers on the Harvard Mark I Computer and a US Navy admiral? In 1944, she worked on this project, and she also invented the first compiler for a computer programming language! CYNTHIA BREAZEAL
Cynthia is changing the world of engineering as we know it with robots. In graduate school at MIT, she developed Kismet, an expressive robot who interacted with humans. She has continued to be a pioneer in robotics as an associate professor at MIT where new robots are invented to interact with humans and improve daily life. SANGEET BHATIA
Sangeeta is a biotech engineer and she’s changing the way our bodies heal. Her research is focused on applying micro and nanotechnology to tissue repair and regeneration. In short, this technology can find new ways to fight diseases like cancer. Wow.
Check out more awesome women in STEM here — or share your own STEM role models with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.