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Engaging Girls in STEM

Activities and resources to support girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Equity is at the forefront of two important efforts in STEM education: the Science Framework and the California Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan. The Science Framework for California’s public schools cites a 2011 United States Department of Commerce report External link opens in new window or tab., which states, “Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs.” A second effort, the California Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan, also highlights equity. It references the national Computer Science for All External link opens in new window or tab. initiative, which notes, “only 22 percent of students taking the AP Computer Science exam were girls.” The California Department of Education (CDE) supports these goals for equity in STEM education through all of its efforts.

At the 2016 California STEM Symposium, Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, welcomed educators to learn about and to connect with innovative ideas in STEM. Torlakson stated:

STEM education is a key pathway to success in 21st century careers and college, especially in the high-tech, international economy. We want all of our students to get excited about STEM learning, dream big, and reach for the stars.

In 2015, the California Legislature declared, and Torlakson recognized April 5 to April 11, 2015, as Girls in STEM Week and encouraged educators and community leaders to work together to increase the representation of young women in STEM fields. In 2016, the CDE STEM Office partnered with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls (CCSWG), to actively encourage efforts to increase participation of young women in STEM fields.

Engaging Girls in STEM Town Hall Events

The partnership between the CDE and the CCSWG, with several County Offices of Education, was created to present three Town Hall events as a forum for progress. The goal of these Town Hall events is to promote statewide outreach to local educational agencies to highlight and encourage girls and young women to explore, enroll, and complete STEM courses and to pursue postsecondary degrees in STEM majors, ultimately leading to careers in STEM. The tentative locations and dates of the Town Halls are the following:

  • Los Angeles County Office of Education on Wednesday, February 22, 2017
  • Riverside County Office of Education on Thursday, April 20, 2017
  • San Joaquin County Office of Education on Thursday, April 27, 2017

Please e-mail STEM@cde.ca.gov with any questions about these events.

CDE Resources for Engaging Girls in STEM

California Science Standards: Appendix D External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
The California Science Standards includes this chapter, which is subtitled: "All Standards, All Students: Making the Next Generation Science Standards Accessible to All Students." It provides a wealth of research and case studies to support professional learning to create instructional shifts to enable all students to be college and career ready. One case study addresses classroom issues for girls in STEM External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

California Science Framework: Chapter 8
Teachers, administrators, specialists, expanded learning leaders, families, and the broader school community need the support of one another in order to best serve all students. This professional learning document provides case studies and guidelines to provide instruction that is sensitive to the needs of individual students and leverages their particular assets. One chapter is devoted to girls and gender equity in science education.

External Resources for Engaging Girls in STEM

Building a STEM Pipeline for Girls and Women External link opens in new window or tab.
The American Association of University Women is committed to encouraging women and girls to pursue STEM fields. They provide summer camps and conferences to engage girls in STEM activities, provide fellowships and scholarships for young women in STEM programs in college, and advocate on a statewide and national level for policies that increase access to STEM education for women and girls.

California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls External link opens in new window or tab.
The Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, a nonpartisan state agency, works in a culturally inclusive manner to promote equality and justice for all women and girls by advocating on their behalf with the Governor, the Legislature, and other public policymakers, and by educating the public in the areas of economic equity including educational equity, access to health care including reproductive choice, violence against women, and other key issue areas identified by the Commission as significantly affecting women and girls.

Engaging Girls in STEM | National Girls Collaborative Project External link opens in new window or tab.
This Web site summarizes current research focused on what works to engage and support girls in STEM.

Million Women Mentors – California External link opens in new window or tab.
Million Women Mentors (MWM) supports the engagement of one million STEM mentors, both male and female, to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers. MWM is an initiative of STEMconnector in collaboration with over 60 partners reaching over 30 million girls and women, 45 corporate sponsors, and 35 state leadership teams.

SciGirls Connect External link opens in new window or tab.
SciGirls' videos, interactive Web site, and hands-on activities work together to inspire, enable, and maximize STEM learning and participation for all girls, with an eye toward future STEM careers. The goal of SciGirls is to change how millions of girls think about STEM.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Women in STEM External link opens in new window or tab.
The development of world-class talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is critical to America's global leadership. The Obama administration understands that fostering an open and diverse scientific community that draws from an array of unique experiences and viewpoints is a necessary step to realizing this goal.

Questions: STEM Office | stem@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-5847 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, January 19, 2017
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