Want Girls Attracted to Tech? Put an "A" for "Art" in STEM

Two Bit Circus continues its push to move the conversation from STEM to STEAM

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Five teen girls express themselves on a whiteboard wall, mixing art with engineering could attract girls like this to STEM careers
Photo: Getty Images

Two Bit Circus, a technology entertainment company cofounded by a son of video-game pioneer Nolan Bushnell, has been arguing for some time that the push for STEM in education is missing something. Brent Bushnell has used technology to make art throughout his career. He says that to really draw talented young people into science and engineering careers, STEM needs an “A” for “Art,” turning it into STEAM.

To better understand how children are drawn to different hobbies—and eventually careers—Two Bit Circus surveyed 500 parents of children between six and 14 years old in order to better understand gender differentiators in how children play and learn. According to the “STEM vs. STEAM: The Gender Gap” report, parents of both male and female children equally report that their child’s favorite STEAM subject in school is math (26 percent) or science (30 percent).

A graph shows that girls and boys are similarly interested in in-school activities involving science and math Chart: Two Bit Circus

It’s when the school day ends that the differences emerge. Forty-one percent of the parents with boys surveyed said their children show the most interest in technology/computing activities outside of school, compared to 18 percent of parents with girls. Meanwhile, 45 percent of parents with girls report that their children show the most interest in art outside of school, compared to 10 percent of parents with boys. See the graphs above and below for more detailed results.

A graph shows that after the school day ends, boys and girls interests in activities diverge, with more boys pursuing science and technology and more girls pursuing art Chart: Two Bit Circus

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Special Report: Top Tech 2021

After months of blood, toil, tears, and sweat, we can all expect a much better year

1 min read
Photo-illustration: Edmon de Haro

Last January in this space we wrote that “technology doesn't really have bad years." But 2020 was like no other year in recent memory: Just about everything suffered, including technology. One shining exception was biotech, with the remarkably rapid development of vaccines capable of stemming the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's roundup of anticipated tech advances includes an examination of the challenges in manufacturing these vaccines. And it describes how certain technologies used widely during the pandemic will likely have far-reaching effects on society, even after the threat subsides. You'll also find accounts of technical developments unrelated to the pandemic that the editors of IEEE Spectrum expect to generate news this year.

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