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Here’s how to get more women in science & tech

Educators are the gateway to gender representation in STEM.

  • STEM Education
  • Women in STEM
  • Explore the Profession
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It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in STEM (a.k.a. science, technology, engineering and math). By some estimates, women hold only about 34 percent of STEM jobs — and make up just 26 percent of computer scientists and 16 percent of engineers. (1) In all fields, the numbers are disproportionately lower for Latina and Black women. (2)

Why does that matter? Science and technology are shaping our future: STEM professionals work on everything from medical research to AI to clean energy. Lack of diversity in these fields can have big repercussions: For example, when women aren’t involved in medicine, they’re also underrepresented in medical research and get less quality care. (3) We need diverse perspectives in all our new tech, to make sure our world works for everyone.

So, want to see more women — especially women of color — in STEM fields? Become a teacher. 

Want to learn more about becoming a teacher? Our free guides cover everything from how to get certified to paying for your teaching program.

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Teachers expand horizons

An Accenture report on girls in computing shows that an inspiring teacher has a huge impact on girls’ interest in the field. Sparking interest in elementary school and middle school, and sustaining that interest in high school can alter the trajectory of young women’s careers. (4)

Techbridge Girls shows the difference educators can make. This California-based organization engages girls from underserved populations, especially young girls of color, with STEM curricula. The Techbridge model is to:

  1. Excite elementary school girls with hands-on activities.
  2. Educate middle school girls with early skill-building. 
  3. Equip high school girls to pursue STEM careers after they graduate.

The curriculum plan works: 100 percent of Black girls in the high school program said they planned to pursue a STEM career. When you engage girls at a young age, you can kindle new passions and mobilize the next generation of women scientists and tech leaders.

“K-12 sets the stage for interests, confidence and achievement in STEM.” 

Education Week (5)

Teachers provide role models

We don't just need coders and lab workers, but women at all levels of STEM leadership. And according to a 2018 study, many girls don’t pursue interests in STEM because they don’t see role models who look like them. (6)

That can be especially important for girls of color. The nonprofit Girls Leadership found that Black and Latinx girls are more likely to identify as leaders than girls from other backgrounds. But many say they’ve experienced bias from teachers and school administrators because of their race. (7)

We know that students’ school engagement and performance drastically improves when they have at least one same-race teacher. (8) But whether you’re a teacher of color or not, you can prioritize equity in your classroom, create opportunities for girls to lead and connect students with role models like them.

There are lots of ways to do that! For example, you could:

  • Supply books about women scientists and leaders.
  • Bring diverse local scientists, engineers or web developers to speak to your class.
  • Connect with local organizations that support girls in STEM.
  • Share videos like these stories from Latinas in STEM.

Strong mentors can help girls develop confidence in themselves and believe they can be successful in any field — even ones they haven’t considered before. 

Teachers change internal narratives

Many girls decide early on that they simply aren’t good at math and science, and that these subjects aren’t for them. But educators can also change the way girls approach learning.

Math teacher Rafranz Davis encourages her high school students to get creative with what she calls the “wonder shelves.” These classroom shelves are filled with supplies for exploration, like Legos and K’Nex — but also art supplies, sketchbooks, clay and glue. Students can use the shelves anytime before or after school, between classes or even in class once they’ve finished their other work.

Davis says that since she implemented the wonder shelves, she’s found students using them for everything from weaving bracelets with geometric sequences to figuring out how to make a robotics kit work. “When you give kids space and access to explore, this is what can happen,” Davis says. (9)

Building a growth mindset

Teachers like Davis help instill a growth mindset — that is, the belief that talent is not innate, but can be learned. That’s different from a fixed mindset, which is the idea that intelligence and talent are hard-wired and can’t be taught. 

In a growth mindset, mistakes are learning opportunities, and being “not smart enough” isn’t a barrier to learning new skills. That’s important for gender equity: Research shows that girls and young women struggle with perfectionism and fear of failure more than boys and young men. (10)

A growth mindset is important for success anywhere, but maybe especially in STEM. Fixed mindsets can be more common in STEM than other fields. But no one is born understanding quantum physics or JavaScript code. In science and tech, collaboration and trial and error are all part of the process. (11)

When you teach girls that growth, effort and exploration are more important than having the “right” answer, you can free them to follow their curiosity, build resilience and develop new skills. 

You can show girls that STEM subjects can be opportunities for discovery — and they don’t have to be perfect to excel.

“When we teach girls to be brave and we have a supportive network cheering them on, they will build incredible things.” (12)

—Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code

Teachers help girls make an impact

Many students want to make a difference through their future careers. As an educator, you can teach girls how to give back to their communities in any field.

For example, Girls Who Code offers an activist toolkit series for budding coders to develop project planning skills and create a website for an important cause. And organizations like the STEM Careers Coalition have a plethora of classroom activities that connect science and tech topics to real-world issues like energy, infrastructure and climate change.

When you become a teacher, you have the power to show girls what they can become and encourage them to explore new horizons. And that creates a better future for everyone.


  1. Okrent, Abigail and Amy Burke. “The STEM Labor Force of Today: Scientists, Engineers and Skilled Technical Workers.” August 31, 2021. National Science Foundation. ncses.nsf.gov. 
  2. “Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Quick Take).” August 23, 2022. Catalyst. Catalyst.org. 
  3. Mellem, Liz. “Women in STEM for a Gender-Equal Society.” February 3, 2017. Colorado State University Global. csuglobal.edu. 
  4. “Cracking the Gender Code.” 2016. Accenture. accenture.com. 
  5. “Gender Gaps Persist in STEM Subjects.” June 12, 2012. Education Week. edweek.org. 
  6. Choney, Suzanne. “Why do girls lose interest in STEM? New research has some answers.” March 13, 2018. Microsoft Stories. news.microsoft.com.
  7. Jacobs, Charlotte E, Ph.D. “Ready to Lead: Leadership Supports and Barriers for Black and Latinx Girls.” 2020 Research Report. Girls Leadership. girlsleadership.org. 
  8. Figlio, David. “The importance of a diverse teaching force.” November 16, 2017. The Brookings Institution. brookings.edu. 
  9. Davis, Rafranz. “Embracing Student Creativity With a Wonder Shelf.” September 24, 2014. Edutopia. edutopia.org. 
  10. Rampell, Catherine. “Women should embrace the B’s in college to make more later.” March 10, 2014. The Washington Post. washingtonpost.com. 
  11. Blackwell, Blair. “5 Ways to Get More Women in STEM: Mentoring, Motivation, Mistakes.” November 8, 2015. The 74. the74million.org. 
  12. Saujani, Reshma. “Teach girls bravery, not perfection.” 2016. TED Talk. ted.com.