The young women in your life look up to you as a role model. What you say and how you act has a huge influence on how they see the world, including how they formulate opinions about occupations.
Everyone has biases… preconceived ideas and stereotypes about the kind of work women and men should do. But how do you become more mindful of the opinions you have towards certain careers? And how do you ensure that you have explored all of the opportunities that are available when you aren’t sure of what’s out there (and when some of the careers of the future don’t even exist yet)?
First, always be conscious of your language around gender and vocations (when you picture a scientist who do you see?), have an open mind, and be careful to not dismiss your daughter’s ideas. Second, explore the huge list of opportunities that are out there so that as a family, you are able to make informed career decisions.
How do you help your daughter discover her passion, explore careers, and plan for the future?
Build a Dream’s 10 Tips for Career Exploration
Work backwards! Discuss what lifestyle and future your child pictures for themself and go from there.
Don’t stress over specifics. Start with a list of things that answer, “What do you want to do?” instead of “What do you want to be?”
Expand your ideas. Discuss likes and interests and ask questions. “Do you enjoy being indoors or outdoors? Do you want to travel?”
Take an inventory. Help your child outline their skills and abilities. You can even ask others (i.e. relatives or teachers) who may have insight.
Find the passion. Help your child find clubs, camps, activities, volunteer opportunities, and organizations (FIRST Robotics, STEM camp, etc.) that help explore interests and build transferable skills.
Get the edge. Encourage your child to get a part-time job, join an organization, or play sports to help build valuable soft skills like leadership and teamwork. Soft skills are a key differentiator for employers!
Keep doors open. Ensure that critical subjects like math and sciences are maintained so that all opportunities are accessible in the future.
Try it out. Empower your child to discover, investigate, and test out careers through experiential learning programs offered in high school (Dual Credit, Specialist High Skills Major, co-op).
Seek role models. Look for ways to meet women who are working in different roles and ask them about their typical day. Build a Dream’s career discovery expos are a great way to meet women working in STEM and other industries!
Use FREE resources. Along with many online tools, utilize resources like Build a Dream’s Career Guide or listen to the Perfectly Unfiltered podcast for information and insight on jobs you may have never heard of.
Careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) offer an endless list of benefits including financial stability, mobility, and growth opportunities. In addition, the increasing reliance on technology means that the demand for STEM professionals will only continue to grow.
Encourage the young women in your life to dream big and explore the endless possibilities available in STEM.