Should my daughter learn to code? Gender Gaps in STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths.
Gender Gaps in STEM: Advancing Women in STEM strategy
In Australia, girls and women do not proactively participate in STEM Education, in workplaces or even in levelling up to senior leaders. This is because the society we are in undervalues the benefits and opportunities that careers from STEM provide for women and girls. This goes a long way back and even progresses as more and more career opportunities are developed. Gender inequalities often start in the unequal participation of gender representatives in STEM Education and at some point in advancing their career path.
According to Youth in STEM Research in 2019-2020, women and girls have low interest and have low confidence when it comes to STEM subjects as compared to boys and men, especially in the fields of information technology and engineering. But when women are asked which of the following are the most important: Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, 84% of women says that Technology is the most important.
According to a study in a statistical overview on Engineering profession, it is noticeable that as much as girls and boys have the same average performance in the National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), a fewer girls still got the highest level in year 3 and 5 Numeracy tests in NAPLAN in 2017. When they reach year 12, almost 50% of enrollees in year 12 Science subjects come from girls and only 26.3% of girls enrolled in Information and Communication Technology subjects. And having a low representation in these critical subjects would greatly future career opportunities for girls both in STEM or not. This true scenario creates gender inequality in STEM Education and workplace.
Every country, including Australia prepares and gears toward advanced digital and technological economy. Which is why careers in Engineering and Information Technology (IT) will be essentially more significant to Australia's economic transition. And with what's still happening to girls and women being underrepresented from universities and vocational education and training (VET) in these career paths, this would still lead to low participation in the future STEM manpower. According to statistics for vocational education and training in 2016, only 11% of women finish vocational courses and only 15% of women finish undergraduate courses on domestic Engineering and Related Technologies.
The reason behind gender discrepancy in STEM
There are a lot more studies to backup how women are left behind in STEM workforce. But in reality, this does not only apply to STEM fields. There is an unequal participation of women to workforce as well as in wages where women earn less than men.
There are several reasons why these happen. We could list them down here but mostly because of cultural and career barriers from workplace to the mindset where women are expected to primarily take care of children. The percentages are very low when it comes to women's work participation compared to men.
Not only that, girls and women especially who belong to the minority groups (rural or remote areas) encounter a lot of roadblocks when it comes to pursuing STEM Education or even advancing their careers in any of their chosen field. There is also stereotyping and bias are also some of the reasons as well as lack of female inspiration, inflexible work arrangements and insecurities in career paths. Within families and relatives, especially parents can show biasness when it comes to choosing future careers where some STEM fields are thought as best fit for boys and men. This and other key influencers can greatly affect women's and girls' decision to take the path toward STEM education and career.
But with the advancing technology, there should also be more and more people, especially women who should take part in STEM Education and STEM Workforce as well. Based on the previous survey in Youth in STEM Education, out of 1000 girls and women in high school and in the university, 84% of them says that Technology is very important to study to gain future employment.
With this said, let's go back to our main question:
Should I allow may daughter to learn to code?
If you want your daughters to play an important role in the society in the chosen field they want to take, without biasness and prejudice, then YES!, you should allow your kids to learn to code. What does coding have to do with all of the things I mentioned? In giving equal opportunities and representation of female gender in STEM Education and Workforce?
Well for one, coding can help your daughters learn not just the coding process but the principles of why coding exists and how it powers websites, apps, and technology in general. There are several reasons why you should allow your kids to learn to code. But one of the most important reason is that coding enhances your kids academic performance especially in core subjects like Math and Science. Also, it is beneficial for young kids especially girls and women to learn in coding classes because it is one of the core foundation subjects in STEM Subjects like Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology. Learning how to code can definitely help your daughters prepare for their future STEM Subjects as well as equip them with the right coding skills in their chosen STEM careers.
What can you do as parents?
There are a lot of things that you can do for your daughters when they are still young and thinking of the career they want to take. Allowing them to take online coding classes can help not only in their academic performance, but also improve their creativity and logical thinking to become more decisive and equip in their future career and life skills. In this way, you also help your daughters be interested in coding the STEM subjects related to it, like Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology.
Whether they are in primary school, high school or in a university, we as parents should be the one to first support our daughter's endeavors and future plans especially if they take interest in pursuing a STEM career.
Whilst there are still gender inequality in STEM workplaces, gender pay gaps, pressure from key influencers and even career biasness, there are a lot of programs that includes STEM in Australia's education system. These programs allow young girls and women to actively participate and join in building STEM knowledge. They also help girls and women make important life decisions like financial choices for their families and even for themselves.
It all starts by fostering a passion for STEM at an early age. Like the other active programs for STEM education, our curriculum is designed to empower girls and foster a lifelong love of STEM learning. As parents, the main thing that we can do is take that big decision to allow your kids especially your daughters to learn this curriculum. Help your daughter get interested in taking kids coding classes to better help them prepare using one of the stepping stones toward a future career in STEM.