The technology industry has historically been male-dominated. While that’s changing, women still make up less than one third of the global tech workforce. Companies have invested heavily in programs that recruit women and promote DEI, but they’re often fighting over the same limited pool of talent. Real change will only happen if we start at the beginning and foster a pipeline of women with tech chops by ensuring young girls are encouraged to pursue their interest in STEM fields.
As we celebrate dads this upcoming Father’s Day, we should also celebrate the potential impact fathers can have on their daughters’ careers by inspiring them to develop tech skills and interests. Fathers are uniquely positioned to serve as a role model for daughters that are interested in tech. According to a Girls Who Code and Logitech survey, 60% of women in tech and IT cited a parent or friend as the greatest influence in their career choice. Additionally, 46% of women in tech were encouraged by their fathers to pursue computer science.
By encouraging girls to pursue careers in tech, fathers can help ensure their daughters will be financially secure, have future-proof job skills and land a fulfilling career as adults. So how can more fathers lend encouragement to young girls who are showing an interest in technology? Let’s dive in.
Identify early signs of girls’ interest in tech
As your daughter learns and grows, she may express an interest in STEM subjects or demonstrate an inclination for technical problem solving. Qualities a child might have that hint they might do well in a STEM career include:
- A love of experimenting
- Curiosity about how things work
- Natural knack for problem solving
- Love of toys that require building and constructing things (such as blocks or LEGOS)
- Interest in subjects like math, science and technology
If your child is demonstrating any of these qualities, it’s your role to encourage and support them in exploring their passion. Here are a few ideas.
Promote inspirational role models
Consider which role models you are putting in front of your daughter so she has female technology and science leaders to look up to. Instead of only giving her dolls or toys that represent traditional female interests like cooking, cleaning and fashion, show her books and movies about successful professional women in tech, too. Movies and TV shows about STEM topics in general are also likely to inspire her interest.
Books that showcase female STEM role models include:
- Ada Twist, Scientist by Anrea Beaty
- Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
- Making a Difference: An Inspirational Book About Kids Changing the World By Stacy C. Bauer
- Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Here are a few kid-friendly movies and TV shows to watch with your daughter:
If your daughter is in high school, you can also talk to her about women engineering leaders in the news (did you know Serena Williams knows how to code?) or even suggest you listen to TED Talks from female leaders together. The goal is to normalize sharing stories of influential female STEM leaders that will inspire her.
Explore and experiment during play
Self-exploration is critical when it comes to developing problem solving skills. There are many ways to encourage your daughter to learn and explore STEM topics in a low pressure environment, such as coding games and fun STEM-related activities. She might also be interested in participating in tech-related clubs, competitions or workshops at school or in your community.
Here are a few specific ideas for younger kids:
- Bake together and let your kids measure or mix together the ingredients; experiment with different amounts of ingredients in different batches and do a taste test
- Go for a nature walk and give them clues to help identify plants, birds and other wildlife you see
- Order a water testing kit and let your kids test the water quality in a nearby lake or pond
- Download an app like Tynker or Kodable, or play data science games, so your little one can start learning how to code.
If your daughter is older, encourage her to join local clubs, organizations and activities that promote STEM learning, such as:
- Your high school’s robotics team
- A local Girls Who Code club or summer program (or apply to start your own club, if one doesn’t exist)
- Math league
- Chess club or another logic game league
- Creative problem-solving competitions like Destination Imagination or the Future Problem Solving Program.
Learn new skills together
One way to inspire your daughter to learn to code? Do it with her. If you are also new to the tech world, be a role model and learn alongside your daughter. You might learn a thing or two, or even consider your own career change.
For example, you could sign up for and participate in Hour of Code, a one-hour tutorial for all ages, together. Or, you could learn basic coding skills together through General Assembly’s free virtual workshops, and create a website or analyze data one step at a time.
Cancel stereotypes by empowering
It’s important to address the challenges that women in STEM face with your daughter, and discuss the significance of challenging gender stereotypes. Fire up your daughter to overcome gender barriers and empower her to feel confident in her abilities. Tell her directly that you support her dreams of working in STEM, and are here to help.
Raise a daughter who isn’t afraid to ask questions or take risks. One of the ways you can do this is by creating a safe space for ideas. No idea is silly or too far-fetched: encourage your daughter to solve the wackiest of challenges and you never know. She just might.
Ready to lead by example? Sign up for one of our upcoming workshops to learn more about how you can break into a career in tech.