STEM is for girls of Petro Kuzmjak school

Integrating STEM as regular educational activity is important because the jobs of today and future jobs are, or will be based on interdisciplinary. Careers based on STEM are various. Environmental engineering, work in laboratory or bank, computer programming or web developing are examples of jobs based on STEM subjects. Referred as jobs of the future, there is increased demands for STEM jobs and STEM professionals. Unfortunately, the case is that girls and women are not in an equal position in the STEM jobs race, which might affect the global economy and development. Many young girls that show potential in STEM activities in school, give up on choosing STEM careers even though they could built up successful careers and financial independence.

The set of activities called “STEM is for Girls of Petro Kuzmjak School” organized during STEM discovery 2021 campaign tends to promote STEM in Petro Kuzmjak school and to raise awareness among girls (age 15-18) about wide possibilities of STEM careers. The activities took place from February to April-May 2021. In order to that we have organized several activities such as workshop, webinar for teachers, “Instagram lesson”, poster presentation and brochure “Bilingual STEM female scientists”. Due to the global pandemic our activities was directed different from usual, but diversity of the activity succeeded  to reach girls of Petro Kuzmjak school.

By developing confidence in STEM education, girls could be equipped with the knowledge and make changes in their everyday life. They could generate solutions for problems related to energy, pollution, food production, clean water, health issues and many more.

Our activities were designed to increase a girl’s interest in STEM disciplines by showing how women can be successful in many STEM jobs that are traditionally considered as jobs exclusive for men.

The first activity was workshop where about 20 girls age 15-18 took part. In the workshop we were talking about women in STEM during the history, such as Maria Curie, Maria Mitchell or Hedy Lamar. Also, we have discussed about prejudices that follow women in science and girls in general. Girls listed some of the prejudices that they faced by them self such as: “you cannot be pretty and smart”, “women cannot be both, mother and a scientist”, or “girls are bad drivers”. We have analyzed those prejudices and tried to find possible ways of overcoming them. We encouraged girls to think positively about them self, or to look for help and advice they if they need.

Also, one of activity was to promote International Day of Girls and Women in Science, so there was made a short Instagram lesson dedicated to women in STEM. It was promoted on official Instagram school page (@petrokuzmjakskola).

Since it is important to raise awareness about importance of girls in STEM, one of the activity was a webinar organized for teachers in Serbia by the author of this blog. Experiences and resources about women in STEM need to be promoted and shared as much as possible. The webinar was followed by approximately two hundred teachers part of Science on Stage network. 

International Day of Women 8th March was used as an opportunity to promoting women in STEM, when we prepared a poster presentation about women that contributed to science with their work. Students had possibility to observe poster while coming to school for individual lessons.

Girls need to know that they are not alone and that many girls made their dreams about being scientists, technologist, engineers or mathematicians come true.  What is more, women presented in brochure  are  someone who they might know, close and comparable. The brochure is part of the project supported by Serbian Ministry of Education which aims to break the stereotypes about women in STEM, but also about minorities and bilingualism.

It is evident that women need to find their place in STEM disciplines, and we hope that we reach girls in School Petro Kuzmjak with activities prepared for STEM Discovery Campaign 2021 and that in the future some of them will be future Maria Curie or Hedi Lamar.

All the visuals belong to the Author – Attribute CC-BY

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