I remember seeing something on television when I was a kid, maybe about six years old.
I don’t remember what it was, but I remember that it featured a female pilot.
I got giddy with excitement, jumping up and down on the bed shouting, “Girls can be pilots, too!”
I never became a pilot, but that moment stuck with me, nonetheless. For years, I’ve wracked my brain trying to remember who told me they couldn’t.
But since then, I’ve taken a dim view of anyone saying I couldn’t do something because I’m a female. When I started college, I considered the whole gamut of majors, including computer science. Even though I ultimately settled on journalism, all things techie still have a special place in my heart.
Which is why I’m thrilled to see the current push to try enticing more females to consider entering science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – fields.
The number of women participating in STEM fields remains well below the number of men, 30 percent below in engineering and science, according to the National Science Foundation.
And it’s not just women opting out of the fields; other countries are quickly outpacing the U.S. in the total number of professionals entering the fields.
Our country can’t afford to fall behind in these fields. Communications, goods distribution, health care and just about anything else you can think of are fully intertwined with STEM professions.
And lawmakers, business leaders and educators are leading the push to rectify the situation. One example of this is the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Challenger STEM Learning Center.
The center, which opened in 1994, serves about 8,000 students throughout the Southeast and offers programs that help children see real-world examples of STEM principles.
In fact, earlier this week, students at Winfree Bryan Middle School responded to an earthquake threat to dams along the Tennessee River as part of one of the center’s Virtual Mission Programs.
It’s through activities like these that educators can help foster the next generations of techies.
But you don’t need to be a lawmaker, business leader or educator to help foster the next generations of techies. If you’re already in a STEM field, mentor someone. If you’re not, just encourage that curiosity.