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There is a gendar gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Far more males make of the ranks in these various fields in the America.

According to an U.S. Census Bureau report released earlier this month, 86 percent of engineers and 74 percent of computer professionals are men. A 2013 Yale study said that physicists, chemists and biologists were likely to view a young male scientist more favorably than a woman even if they had the same qualifications.

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According to a News York Times article about the Yale study, only one-fifth of Ph.D.'s in physics in the U.S. are awarded to women and only half of those are to American students. Only 14 percent of physics professors in the U.S. are women and the number of black and Hispanic scientists are even lower.

One way to start to turn this problem around is by introducing STEM programs to students, especially girls, early. Two years ago, Carroll County Public Schools changed the instructional delivery for students in the elementary level. Instruction now includes a STEM block. While the program is not targeted at girls, it allows all students to get more hands-on experience in engineering and possibly spark an interest at a younger age.

McDaniel College has also launched a graduate certificate program in elementary STEM education in partnership with CCPS and the National Institute of Aerospace's Center for Integrative STEM Education. The program is designed to help elementary teachers, a majority of which are female, gain experience in teaching science and engineering.

But it's going to take more than teaching students at a younger age. There are sterotypes about the roles and professions most girls and women can and should pursue.

Females make up about 40 percent of the student population of the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. But there are still programs that tend to attract students by gender such as cosmetology for girls, and auto service and carpentry for boys.

Society needs to showcase women in non-traditional roles. CCPS in conjunction with Northrop Grumman established a speaker series that aims to help mentor middle school girls and highlight the opportunities in the STEM field.

Last year, the National Girls Collaborative Project helped fund a week-long STEM camp for middle-school girls at Carroll Community College. Instructors from Northrop Grumman highlighted the work from their own carreers to the participants.

By starting STEM education early, and highlighting the accomplishments of women in the areas of science, technolocy, engineering and math the chances of keeping more students, especially females, interested are better.

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