Parents and educators are key facilitators who can help dispel stereotypes that discourage girls from pursuing higher education. And one of the best ways to do that is to create enabling ecosystems for them, helping them fructify their dreams and career goals.
Experience in scores of countries shows the importance of providing enablers such as stipends and scholarships. A recent study conducted by CRY affirms that incentivsation, an enabling environment, self-motivation or motivation by parents and community inspired 88 per cent of the girls to work towards their dreams of higher education and a career.
Researchers believe that parents and educators can make a huge difference in bridging the gender gaps. Given how pervasive gender stereotypes are, girls need to be shielded from the belief that they’re less intellectually capable than boys. It is worth questioning, for instance, as to why young girls are gifted kitchen sets or dolls, while young boys in the same family are showered with gizmos.
An effective strategy for countering stereotypes is to help girls adopt a growth mindset and nurture the belief that their abilities can be honed as opposed to being static. Negative stereotypes rest on the assumption that girls lack the innate ability required for success. Reinforcing how skills change and develop over time challenges this belief.
Stereotypes can also be debunked by exposing girls to the right role models, giving them a chance to envision themselves emulating the path to success.
There is a continuing gender bias and it is reflected in the statistics. The societal pressures perpetuating patriarchal notions of domesticity is one of the major reasons why women are deterred from pursuing higher education, and subsequently, a career.
This gender bias leaves women with a tougher battle to fight, but it’s challenge they must take head-on. By relentlessly focussing on their goals and aspirations, women can, indeed, build successful careers for themselves.
Stereotyping women as caregivers and homemakers often restricts their academic interests to teaching, nursing, liberal arts, home economics and so on. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are few and far between. In order to participate effectively in the jobs of the future, girls should be encouraged to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
STEM education can open up new avenues for girls and equip them with the tools to excel in future workplaces, particularly in jobs that involve the use of technologies such as automation, robotics, data science and artificial intelligence.
Some of the highest-paying jobs in the world today are in the technology space, and if girls form a tiny percentage of the students enrolling in higher education in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the skill and pay gap will keep on widening. STEM education is also critical for imparting 21st-century skills such as analytical thinking and creative problem solving.
Some of the clearest examples of gender disparity can be found in the area of education. Hence, it continues to be one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women.
Offering girls quality education is the surest way of enabling them to make genuine choices about the kind of lives they wish to lead. It can make a huge difference to the lives of millions of women across the globe.
An educated woman is an empowered woman – a woman who is equipped with the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a go-getter, an evolved leader and a global citizen!