The demand for health data experts and related Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers is soaring. With the transition from paper to electronic health records, and from in-person checkups to monitoring your health online, the need for STEM has grown exponentially. Available jobs in the field are set to increase 17% between 2014 and 2024. [I] But as the baby boomer generation begins to move towards retirement, is the next generation ready to step up and get educated in STEM?
STEM takes an interdisciplinary and applied approach to education. The approach integrates the four subjects into a cohesive learning paradigm, rather than teaching them as four separate disciplines. The other thing that sets STEM apart from the traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment. It shows students how the scientific method can be applied to everyday life. It teaches students computational thinking and focuses on the real-world applications of problem solving.
Today, those interested in STEM careers are mainly white and Asian men, even though the emerging workforce does not fit this demographic: Nearly half of U.S. children are girls and an increasing number are underrepresented minorities.
Back in 1983, women earned 37% of all computer science degrees in the U.S. but today, their STEM representation has gone in reverse, even though they now make up more than half of the workforce. There’s been a 12% drop, since 1991, in the number of computer science degrees earned by women in the U.S. (Source: National Science Foundation).
According to new research from Randstad: Although children between 11-14 years old demonstrate a high level of interest and skills in STEM, their interest dwindles as they get older, according to new research. Girls are 34% more likely than boys to say that STEM jobs are hard to understand, and only 22% of young women name technology as one of their favorite subjects in school, compared to 46% of boys.
So what can we do to get the next generation, especially girls, more interested in STEM? These programs are leading the way:
Girls Who Code: Was founded with a single mission, to close the gender gap in technology. They’re working to build the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States, through their learning opportunities, programs, and networking.
Burlington Code Academy: offers an intensive 12-week training in writing code for software development. The full-immersion curriculum will ready grads to work as junior-level software designers, web developers and data-storage geeks. Other programs of its kind have sprung up around the country, but first of its kind for Vermont! [Seven Days Article]
Vermont Tech Jam: Vermont’s fastest-growing and most innovative companies gather under one roof. Get cybersecurity tips, learn how Vermont companies are using the Internet of Things, find out about colleges and training programs, and more!
AAUW STEM Programs: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls. Their member-run community programs take the first step toward breaking down stereotypes about women and STEM ability and show girls that intellectual skills grow over time, regardless of gender.