Raising a Woman in STEM

My daughter is 19 months old and already has a pretty good idea of what to do with an iPhone and iPad.  As a technical person myself I have great hope that my daughter will pursue a future in a STEM (short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related career; not because I want to her to follow in Dear Old Dad’s footsteps, but because I see the promise it holds for a life of learning and prosperity.  Driving into work this morning I was listening to a report on NPR regarding a recent study at the University of Texas found that girls are more likely to take Physics in High School and follow a more STEM related path when they grow up with a presence of women working in STEM.  While there are IT and engineering folks around, there is not a strong technology related community in my area, especially females, which got me to thinking about how can I help to get my daughter interested in such things? What can we as her parents do to make technology a potential path in her mind?

At home we try to do things that get her involved with technology even now.  We have family spread all over so she usually has a Facetime or Skype video call at least every couple of days, but we haven’t got into the games yet.  Looking at pictures on the iPad is a favorite activity as well.  While not necessarily tech, we abide by the old adage of “thou shalt read to thy child,” something that is a fact of nature in any of the STEM fields.

Going forward I’ve been looking at is the various summer camp options as she gets a bit older.  Locally (Huntington/ Charleston, WV area) I’ve been able to find the NASA Science, Engineering, Math and Aerospace Academy, or SEMAA and Lego Robotics at Marshall University starting as early as age 5 but I’d love to find something in the 2-4 year old space.

At the educational level Marshall University offers a STEM focused preschool, but 35 minutes each way may be a bit much for pre-K on a daily basis.  After that we live in an area with an excellent school system but I don’t really see any options for focused education until the college level

That said, I’m opening it up to you.  What options have you found or what do you do with your child that’s tech related?  I’m mostly posting this in search of advice of others.  Feel free to comment here or hit me up on twitter @k00laidIT.