How can we use social media to encourage girls that a career in STEM is possible?

I’ve collaborated with STA Travel Education, a school trip provider, as part of their #GirlsInSTEM campaign. We’ll cover the rising popularity of STEM across social media, and how it can be utilised to encourage girls to stay in the subject. Check out what they had to say.

The power of social media

We’ve long known that social media is used by the vast majority of us. In 2019, Ofcom indicated that 70% of 12–15-year old’s have a social media platform. Pew Research suggests that teenage girls have taken over their male counter parts as ‘near-constant’ users. With 50% of teenage girls being put into this classification, compared to 39% of teenage boys.

It’s not just the students getting involved. MDR found a huge 81% of teachers get inspired with new teaching ideas by utilising social media, and 80% of teachers are using the platform to find resources.

There is no arguing that this is a powerful tool, and with such a large female audience, it is one that can be utilised when looking to inspire girls to pursue a career in the STEM sector.

The gender gap in STEM careers

It’s common knowledge that the STEM industry is seen as a predominately male dominated field. Not only is that a common perception, but this is also realised across statistics, with just 13% of the overall UK STEM workforce now made up of women. (Stemgraduates)

Research from the World Economic Forum found that women tend to be underrepresented across Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction, as well as Information, Communication and Technology fields. In fact, just 3.2% of women globally are gaining educational attainment in information, communication & technology. Whilst just 6.1% of women are gaining educational attainment in engineering, manufacturing and construction.

What you can do as a teacher?

Findings from The University of Bern, suggest that gender-science stereotypes of math and science can potentially influence young women’s aspirations to enrol in a STEM subject. Therefore, it’s important that our teachers step in to empower young female students to discover STEM careers.

Follow the right people: social media is a place where inspiring females can freely voice their opinions, tips and advice on the STEM field. We’re in an age where your students can connect with experts via social media by following noteworthy women in STEM. This makes it easier for students to visualise what a career in STEM might look like and have the opportunity to ask questions directly to women in the career.

Create a community: social media is an excellent tool for strengthening the community within educational establishments. We recommend creating a STEM focused social group for your school, or even better create a female focused STEM focused group for your establishment.

Highlight the hashtags: The easiest way to spread information across social media is to hashtag like there is no tomorrow. Make sure girls are aware of hashtags and where they can find information. Our favourites are:

#Stemgraduatesuk #Stemgraduates #Stemcareers #WomenInSTEM #GirlsInSTEM

Introduce social media sessions into the classroom: don’t be afraid of bringing social media into your classroom. Create time in your lessons where you can highlight fun, interactive or important news. This includes everything from revision guides, influential people and careers hubs. You can integrate social media into your learning plan by sharing important news and updates with your students via the platform.

Collecting content: there is a lot on the web! When girls are at such a precious part of their career it can be overwhelming to take it all in. That is why it is excellent to encourage your female students to utilise social media to navigate it all. Often content is condensed into 140 characters, or in video style or easy to digest blogs. All of this aids the research process, and can aid females to make the right career choice for them.

Girls looking to the future: online can be an amazing place for young females to start building their brand. Those who are set on a career in STEM can start building their online portfolio whilst they study. Sharing their own research and opinions on current situations or areas they would like to focus on moving forward. That’ll put them ahead of the pack when it comes to career prospects.

Social media is a tool which is known for building engagement within a community, a place to share support and get interactive. It’s a tool that is constantly developing and changing, therefore we recommend asking your students for feedback on what motivates them when using social media.

The authors of this blog post, STA Travel Education, specialise in creating bespoke educational trips. Yes, that includes science school trips. Check out their school trips to CERN for a truly immersive STEM experience.

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