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How to Support Women in STEM? Wear Purple!

Today's date, March 14, or 3-14 is an easy favorite of any mathematics fanatic. 3.14 is the famous mathematical constant represented by the Greek letter π. More accurately depicted at 3.141592654...(and so on, you get the idea), the value goes on forever. Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. March 14th is also Albert Einstein's birthday.

Okay, enough with the math jargon. March 14th is a day women in science, technology, engineering and math (popularly known as STEM) adorn themselves in purple to raise awareness toward the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields.

“STEM fields are about problem-solving,” said Dress For STEM organizer Julia Leopold. “When we increase the diversity of our problem-solvers, we open the door to a wider range of more innovative solutions.”

Here are the facts:

  • Women make up about half of the workforce, but only 27% of STEM careers.

  • Only 21% of engineering college majors and 19% of computer science majors are women.

  • The American Meteorological Society says only 29% of broadcast meteorologists are female and only 8% are in management roles.

  • Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women.

The percentage of young girls interested in STEM declines in middle school. This is typically a result of exposure to inaccurate gender stereotypes.

I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Meteorology, falling into the STEM category. I recall being surrounded by mostly males throughout my coursework. Even in my elective high school STEM classes, I definitely noted more male classmates. I would not say I was ever discouraged from pursuing a STEM career; however, I knew the odds were against me. I knew how I would be categorized if I failed. I am a numbers girl, after all. I was determined to become the other side of the statistics.

If it weren't for the few other intelligent, passionate women I had as college classmates and now call dear friends, I wouldn't be where I am today. Who you surround yourself with WILL have an impact on you, whether you intend that or not.

“The hope is that today’s effort will get people talking about the barriers that prevent women from pursuing STEM careers and how to break them down,” continued Leopold. “We also want to shine a spotlight on the women who have done just that, and can be role models for girls interested in pursuing math and science.”

Here are a few ways you can inspire young girls to pursue their passions in STEM.

  • Be a role model

  • Get girls excited about STEM

  • Provide a hands-on experience

  • Encourage girls to break barriers

  • Encourage a growth mindset

You don't have to be a woman in STEM to show your support! Simply sport your favorite shade of purple, and if you really want to, you can post photos on social media using the hashtag #DressForSTEM.

Of course, another way to celebrate Pi Day is to indulge in a freshly made pie! Of the pizza or dessert variety. YUM!

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