The TOP TEN Diverse stem shows for girls
If you’re a Mum raising daughters, you will have noticed a time when your girls were transfixed by slime, baking and exploding volcanoes.
That’s where my three girls are at. But what I’ve been loathe to admit is that slowly I’ve started noticing that they’re not as curious anymore, declaring that art instead of maths, is their favourite subject and that ‘science is for boys’! Did they just say that, I asked myself?
What could we be be doing wrong as parents and how, at such a young age, do our daughters absorb the cruel message that science and maths are for boys and art and writing is for girls?
It was International Women’s day recently and I came upon an article with some pretty unbelievable facts:
- The number of women working in core STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) jobs in the UK has, for the first time, topped 1 million, according to Wise, an organisation that promotes gender balance in the sector. This means women now make up 24% of the Stem workforce. 24%?! That means we’re still at least a quarter from where we need to be! The US isn’t much further ahead either with just 35% of women in STEM research careers.
The question now is: how do we attract more women into these roles?
This discovery led me down a rabbit hole of ‘ah ha’ moments where I’ve realised we, as parents have our work cut out for us to encourage our daughters to even consider science as a career option. Even more so for girls for whom black role models in STEM careers are few and far between.
One study found that if girls had as many role models of women inventors as boys do to male inventors, the gender gap in innovation could be cut in half.
The age old saying, ‘if you can see it, you can be it’ is truer now than it ever was. A recent study of 11,500 girls and women across 12 countries discovered that girls were much more likely to consider a career in STEM if they had a visible role model. As we start to witness the Kamala Harris’ and the Mae Jemisons set out a new line up of role models for our daughters, it has become so much clearer for me to see how much that influences my daughters’ aspirations for themselves.
A recent report I read demonstrated that in most primary or elementary schools about as many girls as boys have positive attitudes toward science. By the time these children reached second grade however, when students (both boys and girls) were asked to draw a scientist, most portrayed a white male in a lab coat. Any woman scientist they drew looked severe and not very happy.
The persistence of these stereotypes starts to turn girls off, and by eighth grade, boys are twice as interested in STEM careers as girls are. The female attrition continues throughout high school, university and even in the workforce. Women with STEM higher education degrees are twice as likely to leave a scientific or engineering job as men with comparable STEM degrees.
Introducing the ultimate resource for you and your girls:
THE TOP TEN DIVERSE STEM SHOWS FOR GIRLS
That’s why I wanted our daughters to know they don’t need to feel like science and maths is exclusively for boys. In fact, there are some really great tv shows out there showing just how amazing and fun it can be! Even for the cool girls!
Take a look below to explore the top ten diverse stem shows for girls (judged and trialled by my three daughters aged, 5, 7 and 9 years old) and see for yourself! All of the featured shows below present a diverse cast of characters and a female or non-gendered protagonist. What I love about this list is it’s truly global. So wherever you are in the world, you can access some great educational television!
This is one our favourites. Eleven-year old genius and kid-scientist Anne has invented and built her own amazing androids. Her neighbour, Nick discovers Anne’s secret junkyard laboratory and enlists the help of Shania to befriend Anne and her mechanical companions. The science content is high without being boring or pedantic. Highly recommended! Appropriate for ages: 6-11 years.
Set in the fictional town of Maywood Glen, California, and revolving around the fields of STEM, the series follows the adventures of McKeyla McAlister and her best friends, who work for a government organization called NOV8 (pronounced “innovate”), a highly secretive group of female government operatives who are trying to protect the world. This show definitely makes being smart very cool. Appropriate for ages: 7-11.
This an awesome series and so entertaining for such wide range of ages. Young government agents Olive and Otto use math to investigate strange occurrences in their town. Odd Squad cases include disappearing zeroes, Santa’s missing reindeer, runaway dinosaurs, and characters who escape from books. Throughout the series, Olive and Otto learn not only how to solve problems but also about working together, communication and perseverance. Appropriate for ages: 4-9 years.
Okay, I have to admit, this is a household favourite of ours. The series stars a group of year 5 kids that form a detective agency to solve crimes and become best friends. Ezra Banks meets Maudie Miller, an aspiring private investigator and they create a detective agency run by children. They are joined by two other kids from grade five, Ava and Kyle. Ava brings the social skills and Kyle brings the athletic prowess. Operating out of the granny flat in Ezra’s backyard and led by Maudie, they scour through clues to solve a school or neighbourhood whodunnit mystery in each episode. It’s got just the right amount of entertaining jokes and clues thrown in there to make it hilarious but educational as well! Appropriate for ages 5-10 years.
Who didn’t watch little Dottie McStuffins when the kids were little? Little Dottie puts on her stethoscope and starts fixing toys and dolls, as she wants to become a doctor like her mother. Aimed at preschoolers, “Doc McStuffins” centers on its title character, a 6-year-old African-American girl, breaking stereotypes all over the place as its her mother who is a doctor while Dad stays home and tends the garden. The ‘Doc’ emulates her Mom by opening a clinic for dolls and stuffed animals. Always entertaining, always cute and goes into enough about medicine for your child to want to know more about how the body works. Appropriate for preschool age.
Who said Dinosaurs are just for boys? It infuriates me when you see all the Dino toys in the ‘boys’ section of the toy stores. That’s why this tv show is so refreshing. Dino Dana is about a nine-year-old girl named Dana Jain who loves dinosaurs. Her life changes forever when she’s given a Dino Field Guide, which not only teaches her new things about dinosaurs, but gives her the power to imagine dinosaurs into real life. This show has such a wide appeal because of its focus, we’ve been watching it off and on since my youngest was 2 and my oldest still enjoys it at 9 years old! Appropriate for ages 2-9 years.
Sid the Science Kid
Okay, not exactly featuring a female protagonist here but the cartoon is gender neutral enough to make the cut. A youngster named Sid, who aspires to a career in stand-up comedy, pitches a morning monologue to his stuffed animals that hinges on a burning question (such as “Why do bananas get brown spots?”), then spends the rest of the day searching for the answer. Why we love it? The creators use comedy and music to encourage kids to explore and discover the answers to what preschoolers would naturally be curious about in everyday life. Appropriate for preschool age.
Nina and the Neurons
Nina and the Neurons is a British-Scottish television programme shown on the CBeebies channel, to help them understand basic science. Nina is a neuroscientist who enlists the help of five Neurons (animated characters representing the senses) in her brain to answer a scientific quest. This one is slightly more ‘educational’ in nature but still fun to watch and explores the burning questions that your child will have been asking about why things do what they do and why others don’t. Appropriate for ages 4-7 years old.
(Watch it on bbc, enhancetv and YouTube)
Another favourite here. “SciGirls” tries to get tween girls interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by following a group of middle school girls who are eager to find answers to their questions. While inspiring kids to explore the world around them and discover that science and technology are everywhere, the girls, with the help of scientific mentors, design their own investigations on topics ranging from the environment to engineering and nutrition. Appropriate for ages 8-12 years.
Based on the beloved children’s book by Randi Zuckerberg, Dot is about an inquisitive and exuberant 8-year-old who embarks on hilarious adventures and who knows and loves technology and fearlessly sets about solving problems. Not a day goes by that Dot doesn’t have a question about how things work in the world around her, and for this savvy kid, the answers are usually a tap or a swipe away. For a girl as energetic as Dot, there’s no better way to spend the day than outside, exploring the world with her best friends Hal, Ruby, Nev and Dev! And her best dog, Scratch! Join her as she conquers each new challenge the same way any 8-year-old would… by messing up a lot and laughing even more. Appropriate for ages: 4-9 years.