"Two Thirds of Children Aged Nine to Eleven Draw a Man When Asked to Draw a Scientist"
When we originally considered opening up BRICKS 4 KIDZ in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, one of the key points that excited us was the opportunity to inspire all kids about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) using educational play and LEGO®. Australia has always been a nation of builders by necessity, and we have to ensure that the passion for building is transferred to our children in the context of a changing economy. They may build physical objects (like machines and structures) or digital objects (like internet businesses), but STEM concepts are crucial to either direction! We see BRICKS 4 KIDZ as an opportunity for us to contribute to Australia’s future, in some little way, by getting kids interested in these concepts early.
Equally though, as parents of young girls, we are also concerned about the opportunities presented to women in STEM fields. This recent paper, Busting Myths About Women in STEM by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, is a timely reminder of the challenges here.
The paper tackles a number of key myths and misconceptions about women in STEM:
- Girls are bad at maths — in fact, there is no gender difference in mathematics ability
- Most women are disinterested in careers in engineering, physics and ICT — actually, women’s participation in STEM increases in inclusive cultural environments
- The gender pay gap doesn’t exist — not true: women in STEM earn less than their male colleagues
- The battle against sexism in science has been won — in reality, any woman will tell you that there is a long way to go.
Additionally, the Chief Scientist provides a datasheet showing A Story of Attrition, illustrating why woman make up fewer than one third of total STEM academic and research staff. The title of this post is taken from that datasheet – gender bias and stereotyping begins at an early age.
This is important for Australia’s future. We cannot afford to have our talented women sitting on the sidelines of this economic transformation. At BRICKS 4 KIDZ, about 75% of our workshops are boys and we love that so many of them have embraced our activities! However we are always looking for opportunities to involve more young girls in what we do, including partnering with schools and encouraging girls to participate in After School workshops. We do what we can and we hope one day that we’ll see the numbers of girls equalling the numbers of boys in our workshops! If you know a young girl who may be interested in joining us for a program, please point them in our direction.
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