Three Gamified Career Awareness and Recruitment Solutions From Around the World

In our own pursuit of creating mobile gamified recruitment and career awareness platforms to build domestic talent pipelines in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, healthcare, and Cybersecurity/IT, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge or celebrate the pioneers before us, even if they are located across the pond. Despite differences in industries and languages, the challenges resonate globally:

  • A limited skills-based talent pool due to low awareness
  • High attrition rates due to misaligned expectations


Gamified Recruitment Examples


1. Facteur Academy: France

Challenge:

La Poste, the French postal system, faced a significant turnover issue with 25% of new hires quitting shortly after their initial employment. JeuFactor Academy was launched to address this challenge by allowing prospective employees to engage in a weeklong simulation. This simulation provided a realistic experience of working for the postal service, incorporating elements such as early wake-ups, learning about the postal service, and mail sorting. The simulation encouraged responsible behavior through choice-making elements, including practicing good hygiene and polite communication.

Results:

New hire attrition decreased from 25% to 8%.


2. Multipoly by PWC Hungary

Challenge:

Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Hungary aimed to enhance their recruiting process and increase new employee retention. Their HR department attributed much of their challenges to a ho-hum career page where candidates averaged less than ten minutes of time. In an effort to boost this, they developed an online game called Multipoly, hosted directly on their career site, in hopes to engage candidates more effectively. The game presented business problems similar to those encountered in the job, allowing candidates to team up and try out different roles, and ultimately advance to simulated job interviews.

Results:

  • Candidates increased their time on the career page from less than 10 minutes to as much as 90 minutes
  • The talent pool grew by 190%, 
  • Interest in working at PwC increased by 78%
  • Employees who played the game transitioned more smoothly to the firm compared to non-players


3. Techniqueen: Austria

Challenge:

Austria faced a gender imbalance in its technology workforce, with only 15% being female. OMV, the country’s largest energy and chemicals group, initiated the Technikqueens competition in an effort to bolster this statistic. The competition involved online challenges where female players, aged 14-16, solved technical quests, with standout players earning rewards such as iPads, mentorship, free tech workshops, TV interviews, and scholarships for pursuing a technical career.

Results:

Media-friendly initiatives like OMV’s, doubled the percentage of women in tech in Austria, with the help of high profile Technikqueens collaborations from companies like Borealis, Siemens, ÖBB, Microsoft, and RHIt.


Global Outlook for Gamified Career Awareness and Recruitment

Gamified recruitment through mobile video games aligns with key hiring priorities across a multitude of industries, and countries. Here’s why it’s so powerful in growing – and retaining – talent pipelines, no matter where you live:

  • 96% of the upcoming workforce (Gen Z) engage in gaming
  • Mobile video games can accommodate geo-targeting for recruitment locations
  • Video games offer industry-relevant skills development and offer badging and credentialing based on player proficiencies
  • DEI-intentional avatars in video games create inclusive experiences as well as unbiased recruiting
  • Video games enhance soft skills such as problem-solving and communication
  • Players can explore careers, privately, for a more vetted candidate selection

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that gamification of career awareness and recruitment aren’t going anywhere – in fact, it’s going everywhere, as it represents the future of global workforce development. Even the U.S. Department of Defense uses gamification in recruitment to safely train soldiers, and reports:

  • 11% increase in knowledge recall
  • 14% increase in procedural knowledge
  • 9% greater retention of knowledge

Companies who embrace this innovative approach will be upping their game in not only attracting and retaining Gen Z talent, but also in fostering a diverse workforce that is informed, engaged, capable, and, of course, fun.

Can you envision recruiting talent through gameplay?

Untapped Talent: Shift Your Focus to High School Graduates

The workforce landscape is evolving, and with it, the requirements for filling in-demand jobs are changing. While a college degree has traditionally been the primary focus for many companies, a growing number of roles don’t require a four-year degree. This shift is leading us to an untapped talent pool: high school graduates. In this blog, we’ll explore the potential of high school graduates as a valuable resource for companies and how early engagement and awareness can open the door to mutually beneficial opportunities.

The Changing Face of In-Demand Jobs

The evolving job market is characterized by rapidly changing industries, driven by technological advancements and shifting business needs. Many of these new job opportunities are in sectors that require specific skills and expertise but don’t necessarily demand a four-year degree. Roles such as cybersecurity, healthcare, manufacturing, and many others can be successfully filled by individuals who have honed these skills through focused training and experience.

The Untapped Potential: High School Graduates

High school graduates represent a vast reservoir of untapped talent. They are at a crossroads, deciding their next steps, which often involve navigating through a maze of career choices and further education options. Many of these young adults have aptitudes and interests that align with the in-demand roles we discussed earlier.

Here are some compelling reasons why high school graduates are a valuable focus for companies:

  • Cost-Effective Talent: Hiring individuals straight out of high school can be cost-effective for companies. They can acquire and develop skills through alternative pathways like apprenticeships, online courses, or vocational training, avoiding the financial burden of a four-year degree.
  • Fresh Perspective: High school graduates bring fresh perspectives and are often eager to learn and adapt. They can provide a diverse range of experiences and insights that may not be present in a more traditional workforce.
  • Diverse Backgrounds: This pool of talent is diverse and can offer companies a unique blend of backgrounds and experiences, fostering innovation and adaptability.
  • Long-Term Investments: By focusing on high school graduates, companies have the opportunity to make long-term investments in their workforce. Early engagement can lead to loyal employees who grow with the company.

Early Engagement and Awareness

To harness the potential of high school graduates, companies can employ several strategies:

  • Early Career Awareness Programs: Companies can collaborate with schools to develop early career awareness programs. These initiatives introduce middle and high school students to various career options, emphasize the importance of skills, and shed light on accessible pathways to in-demand roles.
  • Engagement Through Technology: Leverage technology, such as mobile apps and gaming experiences from Skillionaire Games, to engage with youth in or out of school. These platforms provide opportunities for companies to spotlight their jobs and pathways early and allow youth to “try on” careers.
  • Partnerships with Educational Institutions: Forge partnerships with high schools, community colleges, and vocational training centers to create structured pathways for students to gain practical experience and relevant skills.
  • Apprenticeships and Internships: Offer apprenticeships and internships that high school-aged youth can access directly, including virtual gameplay. These opportunities can serve as a bridge to the workforce, allowing students to gain real-world experience while working toward full-time employment.

Filling the In-demand Jobs

High school graduates are a largely untapped talent pool that holds immense potential for companies looking to fill in-demand jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. By focusing on early engagement and awareness, companies can build relationships with high school students, introducing them to viable career paths and offering accessible, debt-free ways to attain the skills needed to thrive in the workforce. This not only benefits companies but also empowers young individuals with opportunities to jumpstart their careers without the weight of traditional higher education debt. In a rapidly changing job market, it’s time to recognize that talent can be found in diverse places, and the journey to a fulfilling career doesn’t always begin with a college degree.

Career Gaming: Not Your Parents’ Workforce Development Tactics

In an era of rapid technological advancement and evolving workforce dynamics, companies are constantly striving to innovate and stay ahead of the curve and their competition. However, one area where change has been slow to adapt is workforce development. As the newest workforce generation, Gen Z, enters the job market, it becomes increasingly crucial to engage them in a way that resonates with their digital-native behaviors. One innovative solution is career gaming, which allows Gen Z to explore careers in playful virtual environments, discover opportunities, and take control of their future in a fun and interactive way.

The Challenge of Engaging Gen Z

Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, is the first generation to grow up with smartphones and constant connectivity. They have a unique set of values, expectations, and preferences when it comes to learning and career exploration. Traditional workforce development approaches, such as job fairs, videos and websites, often fall short in engaging this tech-savvy generation.

The Power of Career Gaming

Career gaming offers a compelling solution to this engagement challenge. Here’s how it’s transforming the talent development landscape:

  • Accessible and Engaging: Gen Z is already accustomed to spending time on their smartphones – 7+ hours a day. Career gaming brings career exploration directly to their devices, making it accessible from anywhere and engaging.
  • Interactive Learning: Games provide an interactive and immersive discovery experience. Gen Z can explore a wide range of careers by “trying them on” in a virtual environment, fostering a deeper understanding of what each job entails.
  • Discovery and Advocacy: Career games empower individuals to discover opportunities and pathways they might not have considered otherwise. As they navigate virtual careers, they can advocate for their own futures based on their discoveries during play.
  • Skill Development: Career games incorporate skill-building exercises relevant to specific professions, allowing players to acquire practical skills while having fun.
  • Player, Industry, and Mentor Interaction: Online career games facilitate player-to-industry interactions and connections through in-game mentoring, creating a support system and network for Gen Z to learn from and a way for Gen Z to connect with future employers.

The Future of Talent Engagement

As the job market continues to evolve, talent engagement and recruitment strategies must evolve too. Career gaming is not just a trend; it represents the future of workforce development. Companies that embrace this innovative approach are not only better positioned to attract and retain Gen Z talent but also to foster a workforce that is more informed, engaged, and capable.

Conclusion

Career gaming is revolutionizing the way companies engage with Gen Z and prepare them for the workforce. By meeting Gen Z where they are—on their phones and in playful virtual “internship/apprenticeship” environments—companies are ensuring that the talent pipeline remains vibrant and adaptable to the ever-changing demands of the job market. The future of talent engagement is exciting, interactive, and just a few taps away on your smartphone.

5 Reasons Why Younger is Better for Career Awareness

To fulfill the demands of our changing workforce, there’s been a lot of discussion about the optimal age to start engaging kids in a more comprehensive career discovery than the traditional doctor/lawyer norm in school. While ‘younger is better’ is arguably a unanimous sentiment globally, the controversy lies in allocating appropriate resources to support earlier (than high school) intervention, with a more balanced emphasis on our most in-demand careers and skills. But, unfortunately here in the U.S., employers need employees now, making investing in tomorrow’s workforce seemingly feudal in alleviating their immediate pain. And on the educator side, schools are still reeling from the lowest reading and math scores in decades, relegating the less pressing ‘career exploration’ to the back seat. 

Meanwhile, our talent pipelines continue to dwindle to a prospective 85 million talent deficit over the next five years, and poverty cycles continue to persist, despite there being enough people to fill those pipelines. Earlier awareness to these in-demand careers isn’t just one answer to closing this gap, it’s the only answer. 

So what is the most impactful age to initiate meaningful career exploration in order to move that needle? Research suggests (and we agree) middle school, even as early as eleven years old.

  1. Enhanced Cognitive Development: According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children typically enter the Concrete Operational Stage at around 11-12 years old. He considered this stage a major turning point in a child’s life, because it marks the beginning of logical or operational thought when they start to think more abstractly and consider hypothetical scenarios. At this stage, kids are equipped to understand the complexity and variety of different careers, as their ability to reason and make decisions are strengthened. 
  1. Strengthened Decision-making: Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development emphasizes the Identity Versus Role Confusion stage starting at twelve. According to him, this is important to the process of forming a strong identity and developing a sense of direction in life. Exploring various career options during this age can facilitate the development of a coherent identity and future career goals. 
  1. Increased Career Satisfaction: Those of any age who actively engage in career exploration tend to experience higher levels of career satisfaction based on clear expectations. Exposure to various careers can facilitate in children those same results – a clearer alignment of their interests with their future academic pursuits. Research published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior confirms that early career exploration aids in reducing potential conflicts between aspirations and realities.
  1. Improved Academic Performance: Educational psychology researcher Diana Raufelder published a study in the Journal of Education and Work revealing that middle school students who engaged in career exploration activities showed improved academic motivation and achievement, as well as increased self-efficacy in their academic pursuits. It essentially sets off a ripple effect: When students understand the relevance of their studies to potential future careers, they become more motivated and focused on their education.
  1. Reduction in Stereotype Bias: Early exposure to different careers can also help challenge gender and racial stereotypes and biases related to specific occupations. Providing children with a variety of role models and career options can eradicate misconceptions about certain jobs before they’ve ever learned them – some much younger than eleven – opening up a broader range of opportunities and promoting more equitable career choices.

 While thirteen is our magic number for initiating gamified awareness and access to local careers and opportunities –  specifically to under-served and underrepresented communities – in an ideal world:

  • elementary school should be reserved for career discovery;
  • middle school for awareness and planning;
  • high school for preparing. 

At what age do you start your job awareness and recruiting efforts?

Game On!: Fueling Gen-Z’s Self-Efficacy through Career Video Games

By: Aminata N. Mbodj

Introduction

During the training process, just as on the field, one crucial factor that greatly influences an individual’s continued motivation and positive learning outcomes is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to a person’s belief in their own ability to succeed in specific tasks or situations (Bandura, 1997). Research studies have consistently revealed that individuals possessing high levels of self-efficacy exhibit enhanced persistence, increased effort, and improved performance when faced with challenging tasks (Chen et al., 2001).

Understanding Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy, recognizing and fostering the belief in one’s own capabilities, is the secret ingredient to effective skill development and performance. Within the context of the manufacturing industry, self-efficacy significantly influences motivation, adaptability, and the ability of workers to navigate complex work environments (Lent et al., 2000). Consequently, by actively nurturing self-efficacy, organizations can effectively cultivate a more skilled and self-assured workforce.

About Gen-Z

As the newest generation entering the workforce, Gen Z exhibits unique characteristics and preferences when it comes to learning and engagement. Growing up in the digital age, they have a strong inclination towards interactive and immersive learning experiences (Oblinger, 2003). By leveraging gaming, organizations can effectively capture the attention and maximize the learning potential of the Gen Z workforce by designing engaging, efficient, and effective learning experiences.

Integrating career video games in industry workforce development constitutes not only a cost-effective and scalable solution that aligns with Gen-Z learners’ preferences and maximizes their engagement (Sung et al., 2019), but also an asset to attract and retain Gen-Z talent by providing an innovative and effective learning experience (Reeves & Read, 2009). Career games can thus help you develop a vetted workforce capable of meeting industry demands and adapting to technological advancements.

Four (4) ways Skillsgapp’s Career Games can Engage a Vetted Pipeline

At Skillsgapp, their Skillionaire Games help you engage a workforce that excels in both individual and team settings.

1. Aptitude

First, their games enhance engagement and motivation by creating an immersive and interactive learning environment (Connolly et al., 2012). Their ability to capture the learners’ attention fosters a strong desire to actively participate in the learning process.

2. Action

Second, game-based learning promotes experiential training, allowing players to apply their skills in simulated real-world scenarios (de Freitas & Oliver, 2006). Through simulated environments, players can gain practical experience and develop their abilities in a risk-free setting, which translates into improved performance when faced with actual manufacturing challenges. 

3. Awareness

Third, video games provide immediate feedback and adaptive learning, enabling personalized skill development and addressing individuals’ needs (Plass et al., 2013). The timely feedback provided by the mechanics in Skillionaire Games allows players to understand their strengths and areas for improvement, facilitating a more tailored and effective learning experience. 

4. Access

Finally, video games facilitate collaborative and social learning opportunities, fostering teamwork and knowledge sharing (Squire & Jenkins, 2003). By incorporating multiplayer features or collaborative elements, the games encourage interaction and cooperation, enabling players to learn from each other’s experiences and build essential teamwork skills.

By providing progressive challenges, opportunities for skill development and practice, and promoting a growth mindset and perseverance, skillsgapp’s career video games contribute to building competence and mastery (Gee, 2003). The dynamic nature of their video games allows adaptive play tailored to Gen Z’s strengths and weaknesses; this, in turn, leads to increased self-efficacy and confidence (Papastergiou, 2009).

Conclusion

Through creating a sense of self-efficacy in your future workforce, game-based learning fosters  engaging and interactive learning experiences that enhance motivation, skill development, and performance. By investing in career gaming technology, you can revolutionize your recruitment methodologies, attract and retain Gen-Z talent, and ensure a highly skilled workforce capable of driving industry growth.

Aminata N. Mbodj, a First-Year Ph.D. Candidate in Human-Centered Computing at Clemson University, Aminata is deeply fascinated by the humbling process of learning. Three questions keep her up at night: “Which cognitive processes do we use to build mental models of the world as we experience it?”, “To what extent can we use algorithms to map these structures out?”, “What resulting computing solutions are accessible, so as to optimize our everyday learning?”



References:

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. W.H. Freeman and Company.

Chen, G., Gully, S. M., & Eden, D. (2001). Validation of a new general self-efficacy scale. Organizational Research Methods, 4(1), 62-83.

Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 59(2), 661-686.

de Freitas, S., & Oliver, M. (2006). How can exploratory learning with games and simulations within the curriculum be most effectively evaluated? Computers & Education, 46(3), 249-264.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Palgrave Macmillan.

Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (2000). Contextual supports and barriers to career choice: A social cognitive analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 47(1), 36-49.

Oblinger, D. (2003). Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials: Understanding the New Students. EDUCAUSE Review, 38(4), 37-47.

Papastergiou, M. (2009). Digital Game-Based Learning in high school Computer Science education: Impact on educational effectiveness and student motivation. Computers & Education, 52(1), 1-12.

Plass, J. L., Homer, B. D., & Kinzer, C. K. (2013). Foundations of Game-Based Learning. Educational Psychologist, 48(4), 243-259.

Reeves, B., & Read, J. L. (2009). Total engagement: How games and virtual worlds are changing the way people work and businesses compete. Harvard Business Press.

Squire, K., & Jenkins, H. (2003). Harnessing the Power of Games in Education. Insight, 3(1), 5-33.

Sung, Y.-T., Chang, K.-E., & Liu, T.-C. (2019). The effects of integrating mobile devices with teaching and learning on students’ learning performance: A meta-analysis and research synthesis. Computers & Education, 128, 1-18.

Skillsgapp finalist for Cool Tool and Trendsetter Awards: The EdTech Awards – EdTech Digest, 2023

The largest and most competitive recognition program in all of education technology.

Recognizing the biggest names in edtech – and those who soon will be.

We celebrate who’s who—and what’s next.

The EdTech Awards recognizes people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology to enrich the lives of learners everywhere.

Featuring edtech’s best and brightest, the annual program shines a spotlight on cool tools, inspiring leaders and innovative trendsetters across the:

  • K-12
  • Higher Education, and
  • Skills and Workforce sectors.

Read more.

Tina Zwolinski on Being Mission-Driven to Reach Underserved Youth Through Gaming

This post is part of The Founder Factor, where you go behind the scenes with South Carolina’s most impactful entrepreneurs so that you can discover the strategies, ideas, and mindsets you need to unlock your next business breakthrough. The Founder Factor is brought to you by Designli (South Carolina’s top app development firm) and Word of Web

Stepping into the world of gaming to help the younger generation have a brighter future with more job opportunities, Zwolinski has broken the barriers of career awareness and access through innovative technology. Read full blog here.

In 1997, Tina Zwolinski launched a branding and marketing agency that she spent the next 23 years growing and expanding. While working with Millennials and then Gen Z in the marketing arena, she began to see the pressure put on youth to follow the high school to 4-year college path as the only solution to finding a career. Zwolinski saw this on a deeper scale as her nonprofit work took her to underserved youth who weren’t shown the opportunities out there. “I began to ask, ‘What can we do differently, and what would that look like? But I never would have thought the answer would mean exiting my company,” she says.

But in 2020, that’s exactly what she did. Exiting her business, Zwolinski was on a mission to connect youth to the millions of career opportunities that didn’t require the traditional 4-year degree path. This led her to form her startup company called skillsgapp, which produces Skillionaire Games™. “Foundationally, we are a workforce pipeline development company,” she explains. “But as our mission, we connect youth to life-changing careers through game-changing play.” 

According to Zwolinski, students make decisions about what they “want to be” based on what they see, and in schools, they only see a select few careers like doctors, lawyers, and teachers. However, skillsgapp helps create career and pathway awareness for students through 10 different games, all of which focus on in-demand careers that are often overlooked or stigmatized. “We introduce careers to a student from entrance to exit,” she says. “They are put in environments that let them see themselves, as any gender or race, in various careers, showing them what average salaries are, what local colleges have programs for these fields, and practicing the skills needed for that career. For some students, going through a game means they are ready to sit for certification, allowing them to go straight into a job.”  Read full blog here.

UMASS Boston, Verizon, and Skillsgapp: Department of Commerce $2.97M Grant to Enhance Digital Connections in Minority Communities

UMass Boston has launched a pilot project to increase broadband access and additional services for students and anchor communities with funding from a two-year, $2.97 million grant from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program. UMass Boston is one of 12 schools to receive the NTIA funding designated for Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).

Vice Provost for Research Bala Sundaram and Associate CIO Apurva Mehta conceived the UMass Boston project, Addressing Digital Access Gaps in Education (ADAGE), during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, the university was able to pivot from traditional classroom instruction to synchronous online classes and implement a Chromebook loaner program. For segments of the student population, though, participating in online learning came with a serious obstacle: a lack of access to high-speed internet.

Sundaram explained: “As a university with majority-minority demographics, the UMass Boston community is disproportionately affected by uneven broadband access. We designed ADAGE to reduce the technology access gaps we saw growing during the pandemic.”

ADAGE’s three-pronged approach includes increasing the university’s capacity to offer hybrid/flexible courses, expanding access to high-speed internet and devices, and exposing students to technology career paths.

“We anticipate highly promising results from ADAGE. This two-year pilot study will give us the opportunity to evaluate just how much impact having access to broadband, computers, Hyflex learning, and introductions to IT career pathways has for our students and anchor communities,” said Mehta.

The university is strengthening the campus technology infrastructure by retrofitting classrooms for synchronous online courses. HyFlex is a solution for driving student success because it offers remote and in-person learning options to the diverse student community. The project goal is to convert 58 classrooms, a third of the classrooms on campus, to support the HyFlex modality. Studies have shown that students in HyFlex classrooms perform as well as their face-to-face peers academically, while also benefiting from having agency in how they learn and participate in their classes.

Through a partnership with Verizon’s Digital Inclusion Program, 200 students will receive a Verizon Jetpack (mobile hotspot device). The students will also receive a Microsoft Surface Go computer, and gamified content created by experts in fields such as app development and information literacy and security.

One hundred families from UMass Boston’s anchor communities will be enrolled in Verizon’s Digital Inclusion Program to receive Jetpacks, too. Participating families will also receive Microsoft Go computers and technical training. Families will be selected with the help of four UMass Boston centers active in the anchor communities: Institute for Asian American StudiesMauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and PolicyWilliam Monroe Trotter Institute, and Institute for New England Native American Studies.

To create workforce and career pathway awareness, ADAGE will leverage UMass Boston’s professional development courses combined with a broad range of technology skills trainings through platforms such as Skillsgapp, LinkedIn Learning, and Apple’s Everyone Can Code and SWIFT App Development.

These learning opportunities will enhance students’ skills in fields such as coding and create awareness of specific career opportunities. For example, Skillsgapp, accelerates and democratizes workforce development through engaging mobile gameplay. Skillsgapp games, which are available in English and Spanish, provide awareness about careers in cybersecurity by simulating tasks and scenarios that succeed in being informative, at least in part, because they are so entertaining. Practical details about cybersecurity careers, training, and salaries are integrated into the games.

Go to News Release.

“STEMINISM”: Women play a key role in filling the STEM Gap

According to Italian experimental particle physicist and first-ever woman General Director of CERN, Fabiola Gianotto, “Science has no passport, no gender, no race, no political party…science is universal and unifying.”  However, according to the American Association of University Women, women still make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with a particularly high gender gap in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering.

Gender Stereotypes

STEM fields are typically viewed as masculine, yet the concept of a “math brain” shows no cognitive biological differences between men and women. According to a study conducted by Stanford, boys from higher-income and predominantly white areas did perform significantly higher in math, even compared to girls attending those same schools. However, girls score higher than boys in math in lower-income, predominantly African American areas, which account for 25% of our school districts. Why the disparity? One administrator from a predominantly white district observes, “Teachers, who are predominantly women, may have math anxiety from their own childhood stigmas, and they assume girls need to work harder to achieve the same level as boys.” The response was different when the same question was asked of a predominantly African American elementary school. “We know that STEM fields tend to perpetuate male-dominated cultures that may not support women and minorities, but my students don’t yet. They just do their math.”

Underrepresentation in the Workforce

Girls have fewer role models to inspire their interest in STEM fields, seeing limited examples of female scientists and engineers in books, media and popular culture. There are even fewer Black women role models in math and science. Serita Acker, an internationally recognized creator of academic programs to increase underrepresented students in the STEM fields reports, “The last time I watched a movie or TV show about a person of color who was a scientist, engineer, or mathematician was ‘Hidden Figures’ and that came out in 2016.” Which is in part to blame for the fact that by the time students post-secondary, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM majors — in fact, only around 21% of engineering majors are women and only around 19% of computer and information science majors are women.

Did You Know?

  • Nearly 80% of the healthcare workforce are women, but only about 21% of health executives and board members are women, and only about a third of doctors.
  • 38% of women who major in computers work in computer fields, and only 24% of those who majored in engineering work in the engineering field.
  • Men in STEM’s annual salaries are nearly $15,000 higher per year than women 
  • Latina and Black women in STEM earn around $33,000 less than their male counterparts.
  • 11.5% of people employed in STEM fields were women of color, making up approximately one-third of all women in these fields. 
  • Only 19 of the 616 Nobel Prizes awarded between 1901 and 2019 in Physics, Science, Medicine and Physiology were awarded to women.

The future of STEM is female.

With women representing just shy of half of today’s workforce, you don’t have to have a math brain to know that the current gender gap doesn’t add up. 

Here are a few easy ways for educators and parents to close it.

  1. Scale back focus on STEM as higher education conversation, as the journey to a career in STEM starts much younger for both genders. The early stages of education are crucial to a child’s development, and don’t always involve a book. One study found that simply having a lack of friends in a computing class can decrease the probability of a girl studying the subject by up to 33%
  1. Promote engagement in technology at a younger age, which will help allow girls’ interests to develop free of societal bias. Educational institutions and governing bodies should embrace initiatives for children to become both familiar with and gain hands-on experience with technology
  1. Highlight female industry voices. Or better yet, be one. That same study found that 73% of high school girls with inspirational teachers said they were interested in studying computing. This figure fell to 26% for those who did not have an inspiring role model. One way this can be achieved is by establishing mentorship programs to show how women navigate these industries while learning from real female experiences. By promoting female leaders within STEM of all races and cultural backgrounds, women will feel that the industry is more accessible to them, as they see women like themselves succeeding in it.

Who is your favorite female in STEM?

Beyond the Wrench Podcast: Leveraging Gamification to Promote Technician Careers-Tina Zwolinski, skillsgapp

This generation of technicians learns differently. Tina Zwolinksi, CEO & Founder, skillsgapp, shares her knowledge on how gamification can engage the younger generation and attract them to technician careers. Click here to listen.

(1:02) Guest Background
(3:12) Defining and Communicating with Gen Z
(17:12) Embracing the Digital World
(23:01) What is Gamification?
(33:29) Familiarizing Young Kids with the Industry
(52:11) skillsgapp Gamification

  • Discover ways to engage with your workforce pipeline earlier
  • Scale career awareness and pathway access, especially for the underserved
  • Gain a competitive advantage for recruitment supported by meaningful data