A Problem For Our Daughters

On a recent drive to school, my 6-year-old daughter told me that she wants to be a scientist when she’s older. Of course I thought that was great, but then I became a little sad.

Don’t get me wrong here, my kid’s love of science is a wonderful thing — and as a kindergartner, she pretty good at math.

Not bad for a kindergartner

Not bad for a kindergartner

But sadly, America simply isn’t doing the greatest job when it comes to engaging our kids in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).Well-meaning friends and family members keep giving my daughter dolls because that’s what little girls are “traditionally” interested in. There’s nothing wrong with dolls, but they just aren’t her thing. She loves computers, but a whopping  90% of American high schools do not offer computer science courses. If that’s the case, it certainly doesn’t take a genius to realize that elementary schools aren’t teaching computer science, either.

Not to mention, women are still underrepresented in STEM fields. Only 39 percent of chemists and maternal scientists are female. Those percentages become even less for female engineers. Sure, it’s cool now for a kindergartner to say she wants to be a scientist, but what happens when she gets older and notices that there are so few grown women in those fields? Will she persist? Or will she move on to something completely different?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but as her dad, I understand my role in doing whatever I can to keep her passion for STEM alive.

Thankfully the good folks at Intel sent her a HP Pavilion 15.6 laptop with a touchscreen as an introduction to computing, and she absolutely loves it.

Time to put those STEM skills to work

Time to put those STEM skills to work

It’s one thing to play video games on a tablet (something that both of my daughters like to do, by the way), but it’s another thing to let our kids use an actual computer to work and play.

For example, she’s learning how to write now (that’s how kids roll in kindergarten), but I want her to learn how to type as well. So far so good.

The cool thing about this laptop is she can touch it like she would a tablet (as she did when she put the cursor on the screen) and she’s also becoming familiar with the location of the numbers and letters on a traditional keyboard in the process. It’s becoming even more fun for her to work on her daily math problems because she’s also discovering how to “write like daddy” (aka, type).

If you’re a parent with a kid who loves technology, I highly recommend this computer to get them started. It has a beautiful touchscreen and a powerful Intel i7 processor that’s perfect for entertainment, gaming, and doin’ work. Not to mention, it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars. It’s available at Walmart for under $700.

And if you specifically happen to have a daughter who loves STEM, I hope you do as much as you can to keep her excited about it. Not only can they become scientists, engineers, or computer programmers — but when they’re older they can inspire other young girls to do the same.

In 2017 and beyond, let’s send a message to our girls that “male-dominated professions” won’t exist much longer because of them.

And while I’m at it, here’s to hoping that the only type of problems I give my daughters are of the mathematical variety.

This post is sponsored by Intel.


Disclosure: Intel provided me with the HP Pavillon for review and all opinions about the device are my own.


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  1. says

    In your email I saw your comment about people shoving dolls in your daughter’s face. My mother in law got my daughter a doll and I was upset at first. Now what I do is I put the doll in “precarious” situations and she has to “rescue” her doll. So, she has to climb, jump or crawl to get it. I feel that this is teaching her that she can still play with dolls but that she is also not weak and can be strong. She can he the hero! She can save the day! She can keep her doll safe instead of just drinking tea with it.
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  2. says

    As a female math professor, I love that you’re encouraging your daughter!! I think the biggest hurdle I’ve seen in teaching college students is the mental block that kids who grow up in our school system have with a) thinking it’s ok to struggle in math because it’s always “hard” and b) it being considered normal for girls to be “bad” at math. I personally think that encouraging kids to see math as a puzzle and possible for anyone is the best tool we have to fight our society’s view of math and help kids be ready for higher level math and science classes! And you can’t start too young!!

  3. Donovan says

    You’re doing it right dad. I’m a 43 yo single dad who has raised his daughter on his own for the last 8 years since her mom passed.

    In today’s world there are so many uncertainties, so much that our country seems to want to stifle in regards to roles of women, and with the typical lesser class citizen mentality of the ignorant in our country. She should always know that no matter what, if she can imagine it, she can make it reality with enough work and creativity.

    So kudos to you, and my best wishes to you and your babygirl.

  4. Johnnetta Baskin-White says

    I totally agree with your post. Girls are not well represented in STEM fields. I am the mother of an 8 yo son, so I am going to go in the direction that black males are also grossly missing in not only STEM fields, but missing in the higher level math high school classes as well as the college classrooms. I am a middle school physical science teacher so of course, I have been grooming my son for STEM since before he was born. He has a VERY high interest in math, science, technology, and wants to be a robotics engineer. I have had him enrolled in Mathnasium since the summer before he started kindergarten. He attends a STEM based magnet school where he’s been since kindergarten. He also has that computer and plays math games (as we don’t allow him to play anything that isn’t educational). We LOVE what his school offers in teaching technology, math, science, and of course art, music, English, reading, and Social Studies. His school has won many awards for their STEM driven curriculum. He LOVES robots and the middle and high school that he will feed into are also STEM schools. The robotics programs are emphasized in the middle and high school. In addition, I enroll my son in STEM camps over the summer and some that are offered year round like Saturday Science, and those offered by Jr.NSBE (Jr. Division of the National Society of Black Engineers). The toys his father and I buy him are those like Ozobot, Dash & Dot, and Apps like Scratch Jr, Hopscotch, and LightBot which teaches coding. You are SO right! We as parents have to foster our children’s love of science and enstill that belief that they are more than capable to be whatever they want to be!! My son will be amongst the leaders in STEM! Look into girlswhocode.org for your daughter and those coding Apps. Let her play with her dolls but teach her to imagine her dolls as scientists, engineers, doctors, professors…let her emulate what she sees her life to be through educational play with her dolls! That also fosters critical thinking skills, something many of my students are weak in and a skill that has to be sharp in STEM related courses/fields or ANY for that matter! Thank you for your post, continue steadfastly in your path and many blessings to you and your family!

    Mrs. JBW, Montgomery, AL

  5. addison says

    You all will be thrilled to hear that at least one middle school advanced level math teacher is very focused on the girls in her class! She teaches the class while the girls visit and play on their phones and ipads and then, when they are struggling with the assignment, spends the rest of the class time working with them to make sure that they can do the work. Isn’t that awesome?!

    The boys in the class are pretty much on their own (if anyone cares to know). While she is teaching and the girls are visiting, if one of the boys says one word, she tells them to stop talking. When they ask for help, she tells them that they should have been paying attention. I guess that she is just trying to “level the field” for the girls……..?

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