This Is What STEM Looks Like!

How to Get and Keep Girls Engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

The Women's Foundation of Colorado created "This Is What STEM Looks Like!" to introduce parents, caregivers, and educators to the many opportunities that STEM can provide for girls and women. In this guide, you’ll find resources to help girls explore those opportunities and tools to inspire, motivate, and prepare young women to thrive in STEM careers.

Each chapter includes strategies that are specific to a certain age group, as well as benchmarks to strive for in each stage of girls’ lives to prepare them for future STEM opportunities. The conclusion includes recommendations for actions everyone can take to support systems-level change for women and girls in Colorado and present a vision of what it will be like as girls become equally represented in STEM careers.


Nationally, and in Colorado, the demand for a skilled STEM workforce is growing and STEM jobs offer higher salaries than non-STEM jobs. Far too many girls and women are discouraged from pursuing success in STEM fields. Now is the time for change.

  • Women working in STEM jobs earn, on average, 33 percent more than those in other fields, yet account for only 29 percent of the STEM workforce.
  • In Colorado, women earn more than 50 percent of two-year and four-year degrees, but less than a third of Colorado graduates in STEM are women.
  • Women’s under-representation in STEM fields starts early, with gender gaps in STEM interests beginning in middle school and growing throughout high school, college, and career.

Chapter 1: By age 5, keep me curious!

This chapter focuses on the innate curiosity of girls in early childhood. Their drive to ask questions and explore their natural world is something to cultivate and develop.

Chapter 2: By age 10, I can ask!

This chapter focuses on further developing girls’ abilities to ask questions of relevance to their lives. We explore common challenges for girls in this age span that could keep them from pursuing STEM careers in the future, such as negative perception of abilities and lack of awareness of opportunities.

Chapter 3: By age 13, I am shaping my future.

In this chapter, we explore issues that are relevant to this age group such as girls’ perception of STEM abilities, societal pressure, and teacher biases that may hinder girls from pursuing STEM pathways and strategies to combat those issues.

Chapter 4: By age 18, I am preparing to solve 21st-century challenges.

This chapter focuses on opportunities that help girls see themselves as STEM professionals in the near future. We present strategies to provide greater access to opportunities that prepare, inspire, and motivate young women to become problem solvers and pursue careers in STEM.

Chapter 5: Beyond age 19, I am thriving; I am changing the world.

This chapter presents issues that young women face when entering the workforce or pursuing post-secondary education. We also explore strategies to mitigate the micromessages that women encounter, including educator bias and workplace climates that may not be inclusive of women. We provide tools that young women can use to persist in STEM fields and lead change.

This Is What STEM Looks Like!

Download the full guide to read and share with friends, family, colleagues, legislators, and community organizations

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For a high-resolution copy, please email Louise Myrland, vice president of programs, at


Read about the CONTRIBUTORS

Catch up on more of our research, including reports on gender equity in Colorado's STEM industries, child care and early education, and the impact of raising the minimum wage 

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Thank you to our generous corporate sponsors

Xcel Energy

XTO Energy

The Women's Foundation of Colorado
STEM Coalition:

Arrow Electronics, co-chair
Goodbee & Associates
Lockheed Martin
MWH, now part of Stantec, founding co-chair
QEP Resources
Stephanie Copeland
Zayo Group

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