8 Ways to Create an Inclusive STEM Environment for Girls

A diverse STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce is key to the continued success and innovation in these areas. A diverse workforce is created through various genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds being equally represented throughout the entire STEM workforce and in individual roles. 


In honor of International Women’s Month, this article focuses on creating a welcoming environment for women in STEM in early childhood education and into their future careers. According to a 2024 study conducted by Women Tech Network, 35 percent of the STEM workforce is female. Filling this gap and creating equal men and women representation is done through creating an inclusive classroom environment where girls feel comfortable pursuing a passion for STEM and, eventually, STEM careers. 

Below are eight (8) ways to create an inclusive STEM classroom environment for girls:

1. Challenging Stereotypes Through Representation

Children learn through the world around them and what they see most frequently. As parents and educators, we can combat any stereotypes about STEM fields being more masculine by showing frequent representation that combats/contradicts these stereotypes. This can be done through presentations about women in STEM, having female guest speakers, and showing real-world news stories that highlight women in STEM. This classroom inclusion is extremely powerful while being easy to implement and cost-effective for educators.

2. Cultivating a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that through hard work and commitment someone can strengthen their abilities and skills in a given area. The growth mindset also leans heavily on seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a negative element people should be ashamed of. This mindset can start in the classroom, through lesson plans that focus on student mentality and approach to lessons. Then, once this becomes second nature, they will begin using the growth mindset in all areas of their lives. 

The growth mindset is an especially important quality we want to instill in girls in STEM. The road may not always be easy for them and, with a strong mental foundation, they will be prepared to push themselves, learn from their mistakes, and overcome adversity as they enter the STEM workforce.

3. Gender Neutral Resources and Activities

One way educators can create an inclusive environment for boys and girls alike is by having gender neutral resources. If classroom materials and resources equally represent both boys and girls, this removes the stereotypes that certain tasks are meant to be for boys or girls. This promotes the message that, in your classroom, students can be whatever they choose and feel passionate about, rather than what society may have shown them. 

In a STEM Softball capstone for grade 6-8 students, they identify groundbreaking women in STEM and Sports. Then, after initial research, students summarize essential information from online sources to highlight these impactful women. This may seem like a small task, but it will have a huge impact on girls and the way they approach their education, personal lives, and future careers.

4. Encouraging Collaborative Learning Experiences

Creating a diverse, collaborative classroom promotes an environment where students see each other as equals and learn how to effectively communicate with each other. This can be done through project-based learning, an approach that focuses on hands-on, real-world learning experiences to help students understand what they are learning on a deeper level. 

When creating groups, educators can focus on having an equal mix of genders in each team. This will be an unspoken thing; but it creates an environment where gender does not matter and each person is seen for their skills, thoughts, and perspectives on the project.

5. Providing a Safe Space for Questions and Exploration

STEM is often seen as more difficult than other classroom subjects, making it intimidating for some students. When students find things too difficult or begin to categorize themselves as “bad” they often lose interest and stop choosing to take STEM courses. 

One way to combat this perception and keep girls interested and engaged in STEM subjects is by creating a safe space where students can ask questions, fail, explore, and continue to find their passion.

6. Implementing Bias-Training Workshops

As a school administrator, it is important to provide educators with professional development opportunities to further their career and enhance the way they communicate with students. Educators play a key role in a student’s life and the way they treat them will have a fundamental impact on their future and how they approach learning. One way to create an inclusive environment for girls is by organizing professional development workshops for educators and staff to recognize and address unconscious gender biases that could affect interactions and lessons with students.

7. Integrating Interdisciplinary Approaches

Not everyone is immediately drawn to STEM subjects. One way to combat this potential initial lack of interest is through cross-curricular learning. In this teaching method, educators combine two subjects that would not typically be paired together to engage a larger group of students. 

For example, if a student is not immediately a science lover but she enjoys reading, a cross-curricular lesson plan could introduce her to science in an approachable, comfortable way. This could be the start to her life long love for science!  

8. Offering Mentorship Opportunities

Mentorship programs are extremely impactful for students looking to go into fields where they are the minority. For young girls looking to potentially pursue a career in STEM, seeing a successful, powerful woman in STEM can be the motivation she needs to see her dream is possible.

STEM Inclusivity Matters

In a Microsoft research study, they found girls in the United Kingdom first become interested in STEM subjects around age 11. But this engagement with STEM drops off around age 16. This statistic shows how essential it is educators create an inclusive environment for girls where they feel comfortable and confident engaging in STEM subjects.

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