When I first began writing the Diary of an Ice Princess books, adding a STEM element to the story was something that came naturally. After all, my main character hailed from a royal family with powers to control the wind and weather.
You can’t have weather without science! But even though it felt natural to me for my tiara-wearing princess to be a science-whiz, I was aware that I had an important opportunity to push back against stereotypes about who is “supposed to” be good at STEM.
When I was growing up, I often felt pressure to choose between my femininity and my passion for science.
Now that I’m a parent, I see those same pressures being felt by my own young daughters. My girls are like most girls their age: they have a wide range of interests that include traditionally feminine pursuits (such as playing with baby dolls and painting their nails) as well as blowing stuff up in the backyard (yes, we have exploded many a bottle of diet soda using Mentos candies). As I wrote the Diary of an Ice Princess books, I was thinking of girls like these. My hope with the series is to plant the seed in young readers’ minds that they don’t have to give up who they are to love STEM. STEM is for everyone, including princesses. Here are recommendations for anyone who wants to keep encouraging the girls in their lives to stay psyched about STEM:
Connect girls to diverse, positive role models in real life, in books, and on screen.
When girls see themselves represented in STEM, it helps make a bridge between who they are now and their possible future. Counter stereotypes of the lab-coat-wearing, “nerdy”, loner scientist by showing girls many examples of the different types of personalities, interests, and cultural backgrounds that exist in STEM.
One great site to visit is This is What a Scientist Looks Like, which features self-submitted photos of scientists doing art, playing with their kids, and rocking out at punk shows. Send girls the message that they don’t have to give up their identity to pursue a future in STEM. If the girls in your life love dress-up and wearing nail polish, they can totally keep doing that AND do STEM!