An epidemic is sweeping the nation. Girls are at a disadvantage when it comes to success in math and science, and the future does not look bright if parents don’t act now.
In the next ten years, 80 percent of all jobs will require technical skills, according to Labor Department statistics. And jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are expected to grow twice as fast as all jobs.
But currently, the ratio of boys to girls enrolled in STEM courses is a staggering six to one, putting girls at a severe disadvantage to excel in these fields in the future.
STEM jobs require strong mathematical aptitude. So when it comes to your daughter’s math classes, these statistics should motivate you not to let her off the hook. From design to computer science, studying math now means enjoying a world of professional options later.
How do you steer your daughters toward classes that can help them develop the skills and interests necessary to pursue these careers?
—Find math role models: Leverage your own professional network to educate your daughters about these fields. Do you have a friend who works in math, science or engineering? Ask her to talk to your kids about her job, what she studied in school, and how math applies to her everyday work and life. This discussion can be a great inspiration.
—Take a field trip: Show girls that math can be fun through weekend field trips. Visit a science museum or take a tour of an architecturally impressive building to learn how it was designed. Take your daughter’s interests into account to plan outings that will spark a deeper interest in real world mathematical applications.
—Gear up: It’s not enough to sign up for higher level math courses. Be sure your young mathematicians are equipped to succeed in their classes.
A high-quality graphing calculator is crucial. Look for models with a high-resolution color LCD and full textbook-style display that include features and functions that enhance the understanding of lessons and bring math to life. The PRIZM graphing calculator from Casio, for example, lets students create their own graphs over pictures, from a library of real-life scenes.
Some calculators even have built-in spreadsheet function.
—Be musical: When you’re listening to your favorite tunes, don’t forget that music and mathematics go hand-in-hand. Understanding the fundamental principles of music may help your daughter strengthen her visuospatial reasoning and succeed in her math courses.
In a study published by “Nature,” the science journal, students improved their mathematics test scores significantly after several months of musical training. Encourage her to join the school band or take piano lessons.
In today’s economy, having a solid mathematical foundation is becoming increasingly important. So don’t let historical gender imbalances in these fields hold your daughters back. With a little encouragement, getting girls hooked on math can be easy as pi.