It sounds like an intersection between having a strong mentor, and discussing the disparity of women in STEM fields, is a pretty solid approach!
I’m surprised, too, that figurehead examples of women in STEM / mentors in STEM don’t pack more (statistical) punch. I guess calling attention to the challenges women face in STEM is all the more important, but then I’d like to toss this out there: how do we do this in a coed class, without alienating non-female-identifying / male students?
Of course it can be done, but I can imagine the snark from some of my male students in particular. Maybe a good way to frame a discussion is to emphasize the historical context for the challenges women in STEM have faced, and continue to face today? And naturally, keep the dialogue going between students so all feel involved and invited to share their opinions without fear of repercussion.
Now you guys make me want to try this with my environmental science juniors and seniors! We did have a discussion on “role models in science”, but I feel like it can be opened up so much more. Fellow teachers who would like to try this, we could give them a pre-assessment on their knowledge of women in STEM and their likelihood to pursue a STEM career (whether male or female), and a post-assessment after the discussion on the issues.
I mocked up a pre-assessment / post-assessment questionnaire, and I would totally love feedback from the group!