Why yes, girls in low-tech households are still interested in STEM - Technical.ly Philly

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Dec. 3, 2018 1:16 pm

Why yes, girls in low-tech households are still interested in STEM

Plus, six other stats from a survey of middle-school girls via TechGirlz and Drexel University.
At a TechGirlz workshop.

At a TechGirlz workshop.

(Courtesy photo)

A survey of 1,000 middle-school girls around the country published today by STEM education nonprofit TechGirlz and Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business found that the degree of parents’ affinity for tech won’t deter girls from being excited about STEM.

According to the study, 86 percent of girls in low-tech households are excited about using and knowing about technology, only a slight drop compared to 88 percent of girls in households where parents are tech-inclined.

“We must dig beyond the headlines about girls in STEM to understand what factors and influences truly inspire and sustain their interest in technology,” said TechGirlz founder and CEO Tracey Welson-Rossman in a statement. “This survey shows that, contrary to popular belief, girls are interested in tech, and that they will seek out instruction regardless of their parents’ affinity with technology.”

Even if parents don’t understand the subject matter themselves, the founder said, parents should feel confident about helping their daughters seek a career in technology.

The study also looked at family encouragement by race and ethnicity. Girls from Hispanic and Black families showed a slightly higher level of support from parents (100 percent and 92 percent, respectively) than their White (87 percent) or Asian (85 percent) counterparts.

Murugan Anandarajan, professor of management information systems at LeBow, said the survey marked one of the first empirical studies to bring validity to this important topic.

“The results represent an initial step toward understanding how girls’ perceptions of technology can be influenced and shaped within their home environments,” Anandarajan said. “Our findings begin a powerful conversation for parents, showing that, regardless of their relationship with technology, they can develop strategies to promote and encourage girls’ technology interests at a young age.”

Here are few more stats from the report, per its own wording:

  • 86% of girls felt encouraged in their interest in technology by their parents
  • Girls felt slightly more supported by their fathers (94%) than their mothers (85%)
  • 47% of girls say friendship drives their interest in tech compared to only 10% for career potential
  • 33% of parents point to career potential as the primary motivator for tech learning
  • 100% of girls in sixth grade expressed interest in tech compared to 88% of girls in eighth grade

These results were published Monday as part of Computer Science Education Week, a national push to convene parents, teachers and students around computer science education in public schools. Locally, there will be six events happening around the city.

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The full study will be released in about two weeks.

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