As reported by MIT News, the prestigious technical university has partnered with Johnson & Johnson to help increase women’s interest in STEM education and STEM related fields.
The article explains that the partnership aims to develop effective recruitment, engagement, and retention strategies for women leaders in STEM, as STEM fields are still heavily male-dominated.
“Since 2006, MIT has experienced a 78 percent increase in undergraduate female engineering majors. The uptick is especially significant in electrical engineering and computer science and mechanical engineering,” said Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart. “We are making progress but have more to do, particularly in some of the science disciplines. This new collaboration with Johnson & Johnson will give us additional resources to provide targeted support to the next generation of women STEM leaders. And I know that these young women have the power to help us change the world for the better.”
MIT is one of nine academic institutions Johnson & Johnson has partnered with to help increase women’s interest in STEM, but the company hasn’t stopped there. MIT News further reports that Johnson & Johnson’s STEM strategies are also focused on “enhancing K-12 curriculum, program-based learning, and mentoring, as well as developing the best professional practices to attract and retain top technical female talent to its organization.”
Promoting STEM learning in itself has been a challenge at all educational levels, however sparking students’ interest in STEM at a young age may help to increase the amount of students interested in pursuing STEM-related degrees once they reach college.
Many K-12 schools have implemented technology that helps to build STEM skills, such as virtual laboratories and web-based games and software that teach coding and programming. Some schools have gone as far as implementing complete STEM programs, which involves students shadowing those in the STEM workforce and touring colleges’ STEM labs and classrooms.
Introducing students to STEM learning at a young age is important, but it’s equally important that schools are focusing on increasing girls’ interest in STEM. If a STEM class or program is male-dominated, it can deter girls away from participating in those programs. Schools looking to increase student interest in STEM need to focus on finding tools and creating strategies that will spark both boys’ and girls’ interest in STEM learning.
To learn more about how to implement a successful STEM program at the K-12 level, check out Secrets to Successfully Implementing a STEM Program.