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The Positive Impacts For Higher Education From Early Childhood STEM Education

May 26, 2022

By: Kendall Hunt RPD with contributions from the editorial team

A smooth transition between elementary, middle, high school, and higher education happens with STEM curriculums.

STEM curriculums are beneficial to every individual throughout elementary, middle, and high school.  Even students interested in humanities, arts, foreign language, and English can benefit from STEM courses by enhancing their problem solving, communication, collaboration, and adaptation to change. Which are all crucial to preparing students for the transition to higher education!

“TRANSITION”, this is your key word when discussing the impacts of early childhood STEM education.

Students’ make many different transitions going from childhood education to college level course work. STEM curriculums go beyond the material being taught and work to give students the skill sets that shape thoughts and behavior. Leaving any student, including girls, the opportunity to make their mark on engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences.

STEM makes for an easier transition by…

  1.   Applying real-world problem resolution

  2.   The integration of non-STEM course subjects

  3.   Encouraging Creativity

  4.   Providing curriculum consistency

  5.   Squashing stereotypes and negative mindsets about STEM

Kendall Hunt’s "Encouraging Scientific Interest in STEM Produces Positive Results for Young Girls" explains the positive impacts of STEM for early brain development, and the biggest issues with gender stereotyping for young girls in STEM. To read this sister blog click here!

For many students, the decision to study STEM begins before college, and high school academic preparation in math and science plays a crucial role. Studies show only about 20% of high school graduates are prepared for college-level coursework in STEM majors. The level of STEM knowledge a 12th grader student has affects their intentions of pursuing a STEM career in the future, including their choice of a STEM major in higher education.

For women, academic preparation for STEM fields combines with the lack of role models in STEM education, ultimately affecting their motivation and confidence in the field and contributes to the gender gap.

Here is what you need to know to prove we need STEM education in every stage of learning.

     - A study by the American Association of University Women shows that girls’ scores in high school math and science courses are even and sometimes above boys, but the head count of girls in engineering and computer science classes don’t match up. This is highly related to the gender stereotypes and opinions formed as early as 2nd grade.

     - Among high school seniors, about 13% of girls choose to pursue a career in a STEM field, whereas 26% of boys choose the same.

     - Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women.

     - Engineers, scientists, and mathematicians are shown as men on screen, with 7 times more male role models in movies than females. Only 12% of characters with STEM jobs on screen were women, contributing to the gender stereotype problem.

Another study shows a promising change in high school girls’ participation in STEM programs due to STEM integration. The most prestigious summer STEM program for high school students, The Research Science Institute (RSI), reports that female students will outnumber male students for the first time in 2022, representing 55% of accepted U.S. students, up from 22% in 1984.

Of all U.S undergraduates 23% of student were enrolled in STEM fields.

     - Math/computer science – 5%

     - Natural sciences – 6%

     - Engineering – 5%

     - Social/behavioral sciences – 7%

Women make up about 45% of these students majoring in STEM fields, according to the data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). There is about a 49.2% change to non-STEM majors in college for women, compared to 32.5% of men. Of those who decide to stay in STEM fields, 32% of all graduates receive a STEM related degree.

The STEM gender gap continues in women’s career decisions. There is a perception that STEM professions provide difficult work environments for women. Environments that pay less and lack flexibility for their personal and professional worlds. Women in STEM also deal with a lower salary compared to men with, on average, a yearly difference of $15,000.


Now: In 2022, 28% of women in the workforce are in STEM!


US Data about Women in STEM

Women in STEM Statistics to Inspire Future Leaders

3 things to know about women in STEM

Women Achieve Gains in STEM Fields

Survey: Teen Girls' Interest in STEM Careers Declines

National Science Board: Science and Engineering Indicators 2016

Girls draw even with boys in high school STEM classes, but still lag in college and careers