10 Tips to Spark Your Daughter’s Interest in STEM

Start by inspiring her to dream

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 10 Tips to Spark Your Daughter’s Interest in STEM

Written by: Marybeth Bock

“I asked questions; I wanted to know why. Eventually, they just got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there,” said Katherine Johnson whose career as a NASA Mathematician was depicted in the highly popular movie, “Hidden Figures.”

Not only did Katherine Johnson develop complex equations that directly enabled manned space missions, she was also one of the first African American women to be a NASA scientist and served as a powerful role model for girls and women who, to this day, are inspired to follow in her footsteps.

Still, despite Katherine’s groundbreaking contributions to NASA and paving the way for future women leaders, women are still highly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce.

According to national studies:

  • On a global average, girls outperform boys on science test scores.
  • Although historically, boys have proven to outperform girls on high-stakes math tests, the gap is closing.
  • In elementary, middle, and high school, girls and boys take math and science courses in roughly equal numbers, and about as many girls as boys leave high school prepared to pursue science and engineering majors in college. Yet fewer women than men pursue these majors.
  • Among first-year college students, women are much less likely than men to say that they intend to major in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).
  • By graduation, men outnumber women in nearly every science and engineering field, and in some, such as physics, engineering, and computer science, the difference is dramatic, with women earning only 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, although women made gains – from 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019 –  men still dominate the field today. 

What’s holding young girls back from pursuing STEM-related careers? 

Even with so much research on the topic, the answer remains a bit muddy; although one study unveiled three distinct schools of thought.

The first notion is that men are mathematically superior and innately better suited for STEM fields than girls and women are (which we now know isn’t true). Two, that girls and women simply aren’t as interested in pursuing careers in STEM, and the third notion involves the STEM workplace, that women need a career with more work-life balance and far less in-office bias. 

Despite these theories, one powerful outcome of the research conducted shows that young girls’ interest and passion for STEM can be positively influenced by their environment and that now, more than ever, is an amazing time for young girls to enter into STEM-related fields.

  • STEM jobs are expected to grow 8.8%.
  • Specifically, software development employment is projected to grow 22%.
  • Employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990.
  • The median annual wage of STEM occupations in 2020 was $89,780.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, “While record numbers of girls are expressing interest, too few are considering a STEM field for a career — and that’s a problem for everyone who cares about the future of our economy and our world. In order to create gender balance in the STEM workforce and foster innovative thinking, we need to power our future, we need to actively encourage girls to pursue their interests and abilities in STEM.”

So, how can you spark your daughter’s interest in STEM? Start by creating an environment that inspires her to dream.

10 Tips to Spark Your Daughter’s Interest in STEM


1.  Encourage a Growth Mindset

How many times has your daughter moaned in frustration about a difficult homework assignment that was given? “Ugh… I can’t do this!” While it’s always fine to commiserate with your daughter (everyone needs a little validation from time to time), it’s also important to help her adopt what experts call a “growth mindset,” so she can overcome her frustration and face the challenge head-on. 

A growth mindset revolves around the idea that your daughter can learn, she can get smarter and she can become more adept at practically anything she sets her mind to because nothing is fixed unless she allows herself to believe that – not her abilities or talents, not her skills or intelligence. Her potential rests completely and fully in her hands. 

For more insight into helping your child achieve a growth mindset, read: Teach Your Teen to Have a Growth Mindset. Why it Matters and Powerful Strategies That Work

2. Avoid Negative Stereotypes

With so many myths floating around that boys are simply more cut out for STEM-related careers, it’s our job as parents to debunk these myths once and for all and open our daughter’s eyes to a world of possibilities – both now, while she’s in school and in her future.

Enlighten her to what her future holds if she pursues a STEM career, talk to her about salaries in STEM fields, companies who are hiring women in STEM positions and broaden her horizons. Surround her with mounds of positive influence to break down any barriers that could be holding her back. 

3. Seek out Powerful Female Role Models & Mentors

One of the best ways to counter gender stereotypes in STEM is for your daughter to have personal connections with females who work in STEM fields. If you don’t have anyone she can connect with in your immediate family or close circle of friends, reach out to professionals you encounter, including counselors, professors, doctors, dentists, etc., to solicit their input and help.

Reach out and ask if they could share a few minutes with your daughter to answer any questions your daughter might have or put her in contact with a woman who can serve as a mentor to your daughter. Even one conversation holds the power to positively impact your daughter’s outlook and/or goals.

4. Encourage Involvement in STEM Programs

Another great way to get your tween or teen girl psyched about STEM is for her to participate in programs outside of her regular school classes. Math and science clubs as well as summer programs and camps are a great place to start. Check out Id Tech, Best Online Tech Classes for Kids and Teens or the National Girl’s Collaborative Project for ideas.

Your daughter may just discover she loves building robots, developing video games, or designing websites. 

5. Network to Land Shadowing Opportunities

Give your daughter the gift of experience. There’s nothing quite like a shadowing opportunity to spark enthusiasm in your daughter. Talk to professionals, call organizations she’s interested in, or reach out to women you know and ask if there is an opportunity for your daughter to shadow someone for the day. Your daughter can also reach out to her school guidance counselor to see if he/she has suggestions or possible connections with women in STEM fields. 

6. Visit Professional Organization Websites

While it might not be as exciting as face-to-face communication with a professional in the field, delving into professional organization websites will certainly give teen girls an informed starting point from which they can do even more research into careers.

Take a look at the Association for Women in Science, Women in Technology International, Society of Women Engineers, and the Association for Women in Mathematics. These sites offer career information, publications your daughter can sign up for, and great resources for students of all ages. 

7. Inspire Curiosity

It’s never too late to encourage your daughter to be more curious about the world around her, and it’s never been easier to find resources to foster her excitement.

Streaming services are full of amazing documentaries, YouTube has countless videos of STEM content and cool science experiments your daughter can do at home and she can even follow a few fun science accounts on TikTok. There are also hundreds of free online courses at Coursera to look into for inspiration. 

8. Play Science/Math Games

Niv Biswas, a North Carolina physics teacher and mom to a daughter currently in medical school, encourages parents to buy science games that the whole family can participate in.

She says “things like magnetic levitation kits, circuit boards, and lead-testing devices are just a few activities that drive kids and teens towards good science. I have been very successful in encouraging games in the past 10 years or so as many of my students (mainly girls) are pursuing science careers in college. They often text and thank me for diverting their interests into what they call the ‘right direction.’” Amazon also has some great offerings in the “science games for kids 12 and up” category.

9. Teach & Model Persistence

Working in a STEM field requires persistence and a hefty dose of resolve because failure and the ability to persist are an essential part of any scientific endeavor. “You learn from everything, whether it works the way you wanted it to the first time or not,” shares Trish Aelker, a program manager for Exoskeleton Technologies at Lockheed Martin.

Even if your daughter isn’t naturally persistent, you can encourage that trait within her by modeling persistence yourself and encouraging her to keep her goals front and center. Teach your daughter that nothing in life worthwhile ever comes easy… with a little tenacity and hard work, anything is possible.  

10. Inspire Her by Talking About Future Career Opportunities in STEM

According to the site Careers with STEM, “STEM jobs are growing 1.9 times faster than other jobs, yet enrollment in STEM degrees and courses are growing much more slowly, or even declining, especially for women and minorities.

STEM skills will underpin most jobs of the future, and they may not be what you think. Our teen girls need to understand that any subject they may be passionate about easily connects with STEM, for example, technology with fashion, math with sports, science with business, engineering with health outcomes, and many more.” 

Passion and motivation are fundamentally linked to science and problem-solving. By incorporating some of these ideas, you may be able to spark your daughter’s interest in STEM along with a lifelong passion for science, technology, engineering and math, and an exciting, lucrative career.


Women in STEM Statistics to Inspire Future Leaders

Why So Few Women in STEM?

Best STEM Careers

About Marybeth Bock:

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed, “10 Tips to Spark Your Daughter’s Interest in STEM,” you might also enjoy reading:

Teach Your Teen to Have a Growth Mindset: Why it Matters and Powerful Strategies that Work

Disorganized and Distracted: 6 Tips to Help Your Teen Tackle Homework with Confidence

Why Not Join Us?
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
RAISING TEENS TODAY is a resource and safe zone for parents to share the joys, challenges, triumphs and frustrations of raising our oh, so imperfect (but totally awesome) teens. PLUS, sign up and you'll receive my FREE e-Book "Scoring Scholarships!"

You may also like

Leave a Comment