Studies Show That Girls Lose Interest in STEM Subjects During Teen Years, But Some Tech Companies are Allocating Funds to Help Reverse this Trend
It isn’t news that females tend to be drawn to the humanities, while males prefer math and science. According to statistics provided by Girlstart, a community-based informal STEM education nonprofit, only 18 percent of computer science degrees and 24 percent of STEM jobs are currently held by women. These numbers are concerning. While technology is a burgeoning industry offering high-pay in exchange for creative talent, smart and well-educated females are continuing to prefer career paths in non-STEM related fields.
As the CEO of a progressive online ordering company that develops restaurant ordering systems and software, the demand for innovative food ordering solutions is exploding, and with it the need for qualified and talented employees. In our industry alone, there are countless complex hurdles to overcome in order to provide consumers and brands with faster, more efficient, cost-effective and integrated software capabilities. U.S. tech companies could benefit from a larger pool of talented and qualified individuals to keep their competitive edge.
An obvious solution is to recalibrate the gender imbalance in the computer programing and software development industries, but how? One effective channel is to support, encourage and inspire female students at an early age, before they lose interest. Technology-based companies, like mine, can do this through seed funding, unique program development, messaging and more.
The fact remains, however, that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to equipping young girls to be persistent and successful in STEM educational endeavors and career paths. There is still significant work to be done to reverse the tide.
Create a Spark: Make the Connection at an Early Age
Recent surveys indicate that while girls show an increased interest in STEM subjects at age 11, they begin to lose enthusiasm for these same subjects between the ages of 13 and 17. This suggests that the teen years play a key role in distracting girls from a previously held interest in STEM subjects in such a significant way that they abandon these subjects for life.
Further research and funding would greatly benefit programs that support this acute time in a young girl’s STEM education. Simply put, science, technology, engineering and math should be taught in a way that creates a spark in a young person’s heart. This may mean that boys and girls connect better with these subjects using disparate curriculums and teaching methods.
Girlstart, a nonprofit organization that orderTalk has supported through after-school and summer school program funding, promotes the unique process of STEM discovery among young girls and strives to show them that these subjects are admirable, exhilarating and deserving of their attention. Learning should be fun and STEM subjects, when taught with passion and dedication are stimulating. Programs such as those offered by Girlstart are intended to be highly interactive, thought-provoking and engaging to help spark and sustain girls’ interest through the transitional high-school years and into college and beyond.
Ignite the Flame: Foster a Long-Term Relationship with STEM Subjects
While it is crucial to connect young girls with STEM subjects in a meaningful way and at an early age, the statistics speak for themselves. Girls entering their teen years simply loose interest in STEM when faced with competing factors in their lives. A large amount of the burden rests on companies, like orderTalk, to invest in captivating programing, unique career-building opportunities and societal messaging to keep the STEM flame alive.
We can’t continue to ignore the fact that the technology industry is growing faster than any other industry, yet evidence suggests that interest in technology-related careers by females is stalling. While there are a few organizations such as Girls Who Code, Girls in Tech and Society of Women Engineers that are slowly glamorizing STEM subjects and appealing to the female population in fresh and invigorating ways, these are few and far between. This continues to be an industry problem that can only be effectively solved by greater leadership, conversation and an investment of resources. Let’s begin the discussion today and find solutions for the next generation.
Patrick Eldon is the chief executive officer for orderTalk, Inc. Since joining orderTalk and launching it as a software and service provider in 2004, Eldon has served as CEO. Under his leadership, orderTalk has provided digital ordering solutions for the restaurant industry worldwide offering expedient, dependable and secure online ordering systems. As CEO of orderTalk, Patrick leads the sales, technology, projects and marketing teams responsible for implementing the company’s strategic direction. Under his leadership, orderTalk has unveiled Erica, a patent-pending universal artificial intelligence plug and play POS integration. The easy-to-install software will input third-party delivery food orders directly into a restaurant’s POS system without the need for employee intervention or tablet monitoring. He can be reached at email@example.com.