We Need More Women in Science, and Family May Be the Key

We Need More Women in Science, and Family May Be the Key

Wonder why there aren't more women in science? According to a recent study, the answer has more to do with parents and siblings than it does with a lack of lady Lego scientists.

Researchers from George Mason University attended a summer research program in the sciences at their university and polled participants about their interest in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields.

The results showed that 65.5% of the students said "science experiences with a family member or a childhood activity piqued their initial interest," according to the study's press release. As this graph shows, media and museums have a lot less impact than family and friends:

Clearly, life experiences during childhood matter much more than watching STEM experts on TV. After all, who determines what kind of experiences a child has more than their parents?

Women make up just 26% of the STEM workforce, and people in the field generally view men more favorably than women, even if the women are equally credentialed. It's important to note, however, that 92.6% of students polled said hands-on lab experience is what ultimately made them choose STEM fields. While parenting is enough to get the initial fire started, good schooling is required for it to grow.

The takeaway: Taking your daughter on a scientific field trip can be the beginning of an interest in science (after all, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson became enamored with science as a youth after a trip to the Hayden Planetarium), but it's ultimately up to family and friends to spark an interest. Whether it's through Bill Nye-style experiments at home or spending a day at a museum, Mom and Dad are the keys to the next Nobel Prize.