Research shows that parents are essential partners in career development - your influence will last a lifetime. Parents who talk about and show confidence in their daughters’ ability to make decisions and plan for their future help girls to make good educational choices.
Stereotypes are powerful, but not as powerful as YOU.
What girls see in the media and society often tells them that to be a girl equals not being good in math and science; help them to discover the truth about what they can do!
Girls have less familiarity with technology and/or the tools of STEM; model your willingness to take on challenges.
Are you comfortable with your PC? Do you know what makes a construction crane work or how aircraft engines turn? Engage your daughter in your own learning and your curiosity will encourage hers. Find out about the out-of-school activities that will give her hands-on STEM learning experiences.
Girls need to make connections between what they take in high school and a career; help them to find good information.
Talk about ‘when’ she will go to college; start in middle school to help her to plan high school courses so that she will have a wide variety of career options in STEM fields. Encourage her to take math. Connect with other parents and school counselors and teachers to find good information about education and careers.
Girls need strong financial literacy skills; start early with lessons in self-sufficiency.
Teach your daughter how to manage her own money from an early age — to set a budget, to think about the costs of being self-sufficient and the connection between how much education she receives, what she studies and how much she can expect to earn.
Girls need strong advocates to pursue education in nontraditional areas; guide them to advocate for themselves.
In the areas that are nontraditional for girls, they may face both outright discrimination and/or a “chilly climate.” Guide them to find support with their peers and teachers and to speak up for what they need and want. “Yes, I can!” is a powerful statement.
Written by Lucy Brakoniecki and Kelly Fitzgerald. Lucy is the Director of Research & Evaluation at CWEALF and Kelly is CWEALF’s Program & Policy Associate.