5 Ways to Get Girls Interested in STEM: Insights from Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge

There are many organisations trying to increase the representation of women in STEM. But how can you hire more women for STEM positions if those women don’t exist in the industry?

This is why we at Arludo feel that solving the STEM crisis involves a cultural change that starts with primary aged children when young girls first make their decision not to enter STEM fields. What is necessary for a thriving and collegial work environment for men and women is encouraging young girls into STEM while also helping young boys understand that girls are great at STEM too.

We learned a lot in 2023 when we first ran Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge, and it’s time to share our top 5 ways to encourage more girls to choose STEM fields.

 

1. Embrace Problem-Based Learning

Evidence suggests that not only are girls more interested in a problem-based learning approach, boys are as well. This likely explains why the enthusiasm surrounding Arludo’s first-ever National Game Design Challenge was so successful with over 57,000 students participating through the involvement of 557 teachers. Our initiative highlighted a massive appetite for problem-based and real-world learning opportunities.

So if you are trying to encourage more girls in STEM, make sure your activities encourage an approach that appeals to girls. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

 

2. Reach Beyond the City Limits

What was really surprising was the success of Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge in engaging the 49% of schools from regional and rural areas. This is important because regional/rural schools are overlooked, which means that girls in those areas will especially have fewer opportunities to engage in STEM.

By making STEM initiatives accessible to a broader audience, we can ensure that girls everywhere have the chance to explore and grow their interest in these fields. This means making approaches digital and requiring no extra materials. This will ensure that all schools and teachers – regardless of where they are – can participate.

 

3. Utilise Existing Resources

Public schools are often limited by resources. Which means that girls in public schools have fewer opportunities. Despite this, 53% of the participants in Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge were from public schools.

This underscores the importance of designing STEM activities that leverage existing resources. By doing so, we levelled the playing field for all students, allowing students from diverse economic backgrounds to showcase their talents. This inclusivity ensures that girls from all walks of life have the opportunity to engage deeply with STEM without the barrier of additional costs.

 

 4. Ensure Gender Parity through Anonymity

Despite making it to top roles in STEM, we often see that women are not given the same opportunities as men. But anonymising applications provides a way to equalise the playing field for women. This is what we also saw in Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge.

Although one of the most striking outcomes of the challenge was achieving gender parity among participants – 49.6% of participants were girls, we wanted to ensure everyone had an equal opportunity to make it to the top 30 teams for voting. By anonymising our internal selection, further amplified this 49.6% to 69% in the top 30 teams. And in the top 10, 60% of the team captains were girls.

Anonymising applications proved to be a powerful tool in ensuring equity, allowing talent and creativity to shine irrespective of gender.

 

5. Focus on Design and Real-World Problems

Girls often self-select themselves out of things they don’t feel they belong in. This is often STEM fields, but especially true of coding even though girls outperform boys. This is why we titled our challenge ‘Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge’, rather than ‘Arludo’s National Videogame Challenge’ or ‘Arludo’s National Coding Challenge’.

The nature of the challenge itself—a design challenge rather than a coding one—played a crucial role in attracting female participants. The emphasis on designing science videogames that solve real-world problems resonated with girls, who often seek meaningful and impactful projects. By shifting the focus away from traditionally male-dominated areas of STEM and highlighting the creative and problem-solving aspects, we can create a more welcoming environment for girls.

It seems there is a lot in a name.

 

Arludo’s National Game Design Challenge has shown us that when we design STEM activities to be accessible, engaging, and meaningful, we can inspire girls to not only participate but excel. By incorporating these strategies into STEM initiatives, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse future in science and technology.

Need help?

Send us an email or join our Arludo Learning Community on Facebook!