Today, October 11, marks the third annual International Day of the Girl, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness about gender inequality as well as celebrating the advancement of girls and women around the world.

 

A CNN Twitter chat celebrating girls in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – which was held just two days ago on Thursday, October 9 as part of CNN’s coverage of International Day of the Girl, provided a perfect example of the value of coming together and discussing women’s issues as a collective.

 

dailylounge.com

dailylounge.com

The chat was created to address the question “How can we get girls into STEM?” and allowed guests to participate via the hashtag #CNNWomen. It also featured leading women in STEM, including Venezuelan naval engineer and racecar driver, Milka Duno; Ghanaian software developer and founder of Soronko Solutions, Regina Agyare; and co-founder of CoderDojo NYC, a non-profit that teaches youth to code, Rebecca Garcia. Part Q&A and part general forum for sharing ideas on the topic, the chat was 100% inspirational and addressed why it’s important for girls to become more involved in STEM, and what being a part of the field can in turn do for them.

 

One of the biggest themes during the chat was the need to help girls learn from a young age, that they are capable of pursuing STEM, rather than letting them get discouraged by notions like those that suggest they are not intelligent enough or are not cut out for a career in STEM. Perhaps Regina Agyare said it best when she tweeted:

 

twitter.com

 

This idea of STEM being fun is also crucial, and parents and educators have the ability to encourage girls from a young age to develop a curiosity about the world around them and a passion for discovery and creation which can drive them to pursue a career in STEM in the future.

 

Another important idea that came up during the chat is that the path to STEM is not linear. Getting involved in STEM does not mean following a clear-cut path because it often requires having the ability to explore and approach the field with a sense of individuality. Rebecca Garcia tweeted:

 

rebecca garcia twitter post

 

 

 

This highlights the important fact that encouraging girls to get into STEM is not about promoting more gender equality in these fields or forcing women to develop an interest in STEM, but rather, it is about encouraging girls who already have that passion not to be afraid to follow this path. It is about equality, and it is about empowerment, but it is only about those things so far as they relate to each woman’s overall happiness and goals. Recognizing that STEM can open the doors to a range of possibilities can add to the appeal of following this path; enabling each woman to apply her work and goals in STEM to her own unique interests and journey, is indeed the true purpose of the STEM movement.

 

These are only a few of the important ideas shared during the dialogue on social media.  Overall, the Twitter chat on women in STEM echoes the same basic ideas of women’s empowerment in any aspect, namely that women should feel free to follow their passions and live their lives as they imagine them. Recognizing opportunities to initiate and engage in discussions regarding gender inequality or women’s empowerment are so important, not only for what we can contribute with our own voices but because of what we can learn from the voices of others.

 

Why do you think it’s important to encourage girls to get into STEM? Share your comments below or tweet me @tamarahoumi