About Dads for Daughters in STEM
At Dads for Daughters in STEM (D4DSTEM), we believe that foundational skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) will help prepare kids for any career path they choose to live better lives.
D4DSTEM is a volunteer driven not for profit organization that is committed to empowering parents and caregivers to prepare Canadian kids – particularly girls ages 3 to 10 – with a focus on higher risk socio economic areas to be innovators and leaders in the Canadian economy. We do this by providing diverse and fun STEM activities / toys, resources and events that build confidence, curiosity and critical skills to prepare youth for a brighter future.
Our goal is to ensure that all Canadian kids between the ages of 3 to 10 – particularly girls, who have been historically underrepresented in STEM – are given equal opportunity to build our future.
As D4DSTEM evolves, we have an initial focus on organizing STEM Toy drives, creating and sharing DIY STEM activities and stories, building our team of volunteers and securing a few sponsors. We will leverage donations to deliver Monthly STEM-in-a-Box Kits to kids in higher risk socio economic areas.
Importance of STEM
It is critically important for parents and caregivers to play a lead role to build confidence, curiosity and critical skills in STEM with kids in early years, particularly girls. Dad’s for Daughters in STEM (D4DSTEM) goal is to help all kids however, as women maintain less than 20% of STEM jobs, the focus will be on building curiosity, confidence, and critical skills with girls. Curiosity in science, technology, engineering, and math starts as early as 3 years old and with each year that passes it becomes even more difficult to build confidence and interest with STEM in girls.
Our world is changing fast. We do not know what future jobs will be, but we do know that foundational skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math will help prepare youth for any career path they choose.
There is a gap. Only 20 per cent of Canada's post-secondary STEM-field students are female. While jobs in STEM-related domains are growing 3x faster than other parts of the economy and paying 12 per cent higher, these jobs employ less than 25% women.
It starts early. Building confidence, including perseverance (it is OK to make mistakes to learn), and encouraging curiosity is key! The challenge to foster female interest in STEM begins in childhood. A walk down the pink and blue toy aisles of most retailers already shows the girl-boy disparity: Girls’ toys revolve around fashion and crafts, boys’ toys around mechanics and building. It gets progressively harder to develop an interest in STEM throughout the education system. In fact, by the time girls are in second grade, they have already begun to believe math is for boys. In addition, with more STEM focus happening in schools, parents and caregivers can play a critical role in guiding daughters and changing the STEM status quo.
Recent studies have found that parents and caregivers are an untapped resource for encouraging children to pursue STEM studies and for countering the prevailing message that STEM is only for boys.
Even simple activities and encouragement from family members can drive a girl’s interest in STEM.
In addition to strong women role models in STEM to steer girls towards careers in STEM, men in STEM - many who are dads - represent 80% of current jobs. It's a bit of numbers game … if we get more dads involved to play a bigger nurturing educational role, which has typically been mom's domain, we can make a difference.
D4DSTEM founders, Darryl Silva and Baanu Ratneswaran, have young curious daughters who love math and nature, critical building blocks and interests to pursue careers in STEM.
For Darryl, he started noticing that he could be doing more to encourage curiosity and confidence in STEM with his 5-year-old daughter Adrianna and his 3-year-old son Marcus because he started to experience external factors (toys, media) to dissuade interest and monopolize mind share. Darryl and his wife Cara-Lynne made it their personal mission to overcome stereotypes - on their time - and be more involved, thoughtful and deliberate with activities - both FREE and paid - to encourage curiosity and confidence in STEM. It struck them quickly that where they have access to resources and an understanding of the importance of STEM, that many Canadian parents and caregivers do not. With the desire to want to ensure that all Canadian kids – particularly girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth and newcomers –are given equal opportunity to build our future, Dads for Daughters in STEM was born.
For Baanu, she has experienced first hand the unique challenges and opportunities that women face while pursuing careers in STEM. As an accomplished executive and devoted mother, with degrees in Engineering and Business, Baanu and her husband are committed and passionate about building STEM curiosity and confidence with their daughter and in doing so helping all girls. Baanu’s parents always encouraged an interest in science and technology, including the importance of math, in her adolescence and she believes that this made all of the difference.