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A 2012 Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) study affirms girls’ interest in STEM. Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, says that while a majority of today’s girls have a clear interest in STEM, they don’t prioritize STEM fields when thinking about their future careers.
The study shows that 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM subjects and the general field of study. Further, a high 82 percent of girls see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM.” And yet, few girls consider it their number-one career option: 81 percent of girls interested in STEM are interested in pursuing STEM careers, but only 13 percent say it’s their first choice. Additionally, girls express that they don’t know a lot about STEM careers, with 60 percent of STEM-interested girls acknowledging that they know more about other careers than they do about STEM careers.
Girls are also aware that gender barriers persist in today’s society: 57 percent of those studied concur that if they were to pursue a STEM career, they would “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.”
“This study affirms how important it is to support girls at a young age and make learning about STEM fun and engaging,” said Jackie Alexander, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts Louisiana East.
Generation STEM notes that the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM hold the most appeal for girls. STEM-interested girls take an active, inquisitive approach to engaging in science, technology, engineering, and math: a high percentage like to solve problems (85%), build things and put things together (67%), do hands-on science projects (83%), and ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions (80%). Girls enjoy the hands-on aspect of exploration and discovery and recognize the benefits of a challenge: 89 percent of all girls agree that “obstacles make me stronger.”