A CBS 60 Minutes segment on March 3 focused on new efforts to get girls to love computer science and other STEM subjects at a very young age. One of the people featured, Hadi Partovi, the founder of Code.org, a non-profit that aims to teach computer science to all American students, said that “to increase the number of women in tech, the focus needs to begin well before women enter the workforce.”
His program, along with the efforts of others, aims much younger – as young as kindergarten – with the goal of establishing a comfort with and interest in science and technology. He refers to a concept known as the “middle school cliff” based on research showing middle school is when girls traditionally turn away from STEM subjects..
In the 60 Minutes segment, Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of LittleBits, a startup that makes electronic building blocks with built-in circuits, said she agrees that “educating girls in STEM needs to start early—specifically between the ages of eight and 12.”
“These are formative years,” she continued “They’re the years where they are building their confidence, where they are building their interests in what they want to do when they grow up, where they’re visualizing what they look like when they grow up and who they want to emulate.”
If you’re interested in reading more about the “middle school cliff,” this article on Microsoft.com provides an explanation.