Thank you to ABC 7 and reporter Ross DiMattei for telling our story and raising awareness of the need to encourage girls in STEM!
Story originally aired on ABC 7 June 20, 2017. Visit ABC 7 to watch the video.
Kristi Grigsby used to write stories for her daughters when they were growing up in Naples. After taking a break from her books, she was recently inspired to pick up the pen again after reading reports about little girls falling behind in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and math.
"There is nothing available to introduce STEM fields in a way that's exciting and fun to girls at this age," Grigsby said.
Recent reports show women are lagging behind men in the fields of math and science. Kristi Grigsby says the problem starts at an early age.
"STEM resources for girls are not readily available until they get to school," she said. "High schools are doing a better job of introducing these fields. Middle schools are starting to introduce these, but when you look at the research and it shows the girls at the age of six are already doubting their intelligence at times, middle school is too late."
Now, Grigsby is preparing to publish her three children's stories, all about young girls interested in a career in STEM.
"So we have 'Sophie and the Airplane' which focuses on the aerospace industry. We have 'Zelda the Curious,' which is focused on engineering. And we have 'Chelsea Discovers Chemistry,' which of course is chemistry and the sciences."
The books will also feature interviews with real women who have been successful in STEM fields over the course of their careers.
"Parents often times don't know the possibilities, so that's why we interview real women in STEM and put those interviews out there," she said. "They know that these fields are exciting and the future and they want, more than anyone, to see young girls take an interest in this and learn from their experiences. Women in the sciences are discovering cures for terrible diseases. Women in aerospace are dreaming of flying to the moon."
Sarah Kuba is the young illustrator bringing Grigsby's character, Sophie, to life.
"The character's name is Sophie, and I was interested in the book because when I was young, I remember when I went on the airplane for the first time, it was an exciting experience, and it was just magical," Kuba said. "I wanted to kind of make her look like a pilot so I gave her those aviator goggles, and she just has a very big and bright and bold personality, so I gave her very bright warm colors to make her look inviting. I think the young girls will catch on with her after seeing how bright and happy and confident she is she's not afraid to ask questions and she's very excited."
Picture books about young girls chasing their dreams is something many moms can get behind.
"When you have a child who is so interested in something that so needed in this world and knowing that they're gonna be taking care of us when we're old and I want my child to be part of it being a benefit and not a hindrance," said Nancy Jeffers.
"My hope is that these books can ignite excitement in little girls and that they will see the possibilities and see that curiosity and their creativity can lead to really exciting things and that they are not afraid to dream," Grigsby said.
Kristi Grigsby is publishing these books on her own. She doesn't have a set publishing date yet, but she hopes they will be available on Amazon by the end of the summer. They're aimed at kids ages 3 through 8.
Thanks to the Naples Daily News and reporter Laura Layden for this great article on STEM Girls Books, our mission and our team.
Story originally published in Naples Daily News, June 16, 2017
Years ago Kristi Grigsby's daughter asked her a question she struggled to answer.
"What is an engineer?" her then-little girl, Jennifer, wanted to know.
"I didn't know," Grigsby said. "I couldn't explain it to her."
Grigsby knows a lot more now — and she is making sure other parents and little girls do too through her new STEM Girls Books series. That's STEM as in science, technology, engineering and math.
Her first three picture books are expected to be out by summer's end thanks to a successful campaign on Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects.
Her 30-day campaign raised nearly $7,800, more than twice what she asked for in pledges to get her first books launched. Her campaign even caught the eye of Inc. magazine, leading it to include Grigsby on a list of "15 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch Out For in 2017."
The idea for the book series came to Grigsby in January. After doing a little research, she found it takes most writers years to get their first book published. She'll have the trio of books published within seven months.
"It was a God thing," she said. "I mean it all came together. It was just too great of an idea. It couldn't have come from me."
The first books are centered around engineering, aerospace and chemistry. They'll be available in paperback and digital formats.
"I've got probably six more books waiting that could go through illustration as I get funding to put back in the business," Grigsby said.
Future subjects will include technology, biology, civil engineering and math.
The book series is designed for girls from the age of 3 to 8. Grigsby said she wishes she had them for her daughters when they were younger. Fortunately, her girls are still both interested in pursuing STEM careers after getting encouragement from their parents early on, who did some exploring of their own to better explain job opportunities in those fields to keep up their children's intrigue.
The books send this message, Grigsby said:
"It is cool to be curious. It is fun to be good at math. I can tinker with what has traditionally been known as a boy's toy and have fun with it."
Grigsby's daughter, Jennifer, is studying to be an engineer at Georgia Tech.
"There are so many girls that don't know what exciting careers are available," Grigsby said. "They still think of engineering as building bridges and that doesn't always sound so exciting to them."
The books are designed to tap into little girls' natural curiosity and talents.
"In this way we can introduce careers that they may not have otherwise considered," she said. "For example, a passion for cooking and playing 'dress up' with makeup is an ideal opportunity to introduce chemistry."
At the end of every book, a real woman working in a STEM job tells her story and gives insight into her career. More in depth interviews with women working in these fields are shared on the website for the series, which can be a valuable resource for parents and teachers alike.
As part of the Kickstarter campaign, 330 books have been claimed. Donors who pledged $45 or more will receive printed copies of all three books.
The books are self-published and will be sold on amazon.com.
Grigsby is working with three illustrators, two of them students. She's also getting assistance from her younger daughter Dayna, who has helped with marketing and promotion, but will soon head off to Georgia Tech, where she plans to study technology and entrepreneurship.
Brian Maikisch, the illustrator for "Zelda the Curious," the book on engineering, said as a father of two boys he's learned from his involvement in the book project that some STEM occupations aren't pushed as much with girls as with boys — and for no good reason.
He hopes to illustrate future books in the series.
"It has been really fun, to more or less be a kid again," he said.
Meghan Schimmel, an elementary school teacher at Seacrest Country Day School in East Naples, said what's great about the books is that they get kids thinking about STEM fields at such a young age, something her private school promotes.
"We allow our youngest learners to question how things work and how things are made, through STEM and education activities," she said. "We set up the path for our youngest learners who are naturally curious to develop a scientific inquiry process at an early age."
This article was originally published in Inc. April 25, 2017.
These 15 females are at the top of their field.
Each year, attention turns to the entrepreneurs making the biggest impact, whether they're changing the world or improving the way consumers live and work each day. In 2017, women are emerging as a major force in the business landscape, often leading conferences and mentoring others. These 15 entrepreneurs are at the top of their field, blazing the way for the many generations of female startup founders who are sure to follow.
Kimberli Cheung Wright
As founder and CEO of Trepic, Kimberli Cheung Wright stands to change travel planning forever. Her app helps consumers plan trips by browsing images, with selections customized to each user's personal preferences.
STEM [Girls Books] was founded out of a need to encourage learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Kristi Grigsby's picture book series is geared specifically toward encouraging young girls to pursue these areas through fun storytelling.
Read the rest of the story and meet the remaining 13 honorees on Inc.
Closing the gender gap in STEM can begin as early as the preschool years with new picture book series inspired by women in STEM.
Naples, FL - The push to equalize the gender gap in STEM is a hot topic across the nation. In fact, creating more opportunities for women in STEM was among the first bills signed by President Trump. While progress is being made with stronger university recruitment programs and the introduction of STEM curriculum in schools during the teen or preteen years, research tells us that introduction to STEM needs to begin much earlier.
A recent study shows that confidence, not ability, is the primary driver behind a girl’s reluctance to pursue STEM fields. Which isn’t surprising considering further research that shows by the age of six, little girls may already begin doubting their own intelligence. In the quest to close the gender gap in STEM, it may be wise to focus more effort on these early years, long before self doubt and stereotypes begin pushing girls away.
That’s the mission behind STEM Girls Books™, a series of picture books designed to introduce young girls – ages 3-8 – to the exciting possibilities of STEM. With today’s Kickstarter launch, a grassroots crowdfunding campaign is underway to raise the remaining funds needed to bring the first three STEM Girls Books to market before the end of summer.
“Our stories don’t try to change little girls, rather they tap into their natural curiosity and talents,” said Kristi Grigsby, founder of STEM Girls Books. “In this way we can introduce careers that they may not have otherwise considered. For example, a passion for cooking and playing ‘dress up’ with makeup is an ideal opportunity to introduce chemistry. In contrast, a little girl who loves to tinker and help Dad fix things around the house will see how these traits can lead to a fun career in engineering.”
One of the unique features of STEM Girls Books is that they are inspired by women in STEM. As part of the research process, STEM Girls Books surveys successful women in STEM and publishes the stories on the website. Grigsby added, “These interviews have become such a valuable resource for parents and teachers alike who are also learning and finding inspiration from the stories shared. With greater knowledge, they are better equipped to nurture STEM interest and help build the confidence that girls need to go after their dreams.”
To join this effort and help the STEM Girls Books team inspire the next generation of STEM dreamers, visit the Kickstarter campaign. Learn more about STEM Girls Books at www.STEMGirlsBooks.com.
Kristi Grigsby, Founder
STEM Girls Books
Please use the contact form or email directly (grigsbykristi at gmail extension).
This post was originally published in Mamalode April 13, 2017.
During a time when we’re pushing so hard to close the gender gap in STEM fields, we must also recognize that these career options are not for everyone. Or are they?
I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing women in STEM during my research process for STEM Girls Books. These women are sharing not only their own stories, but also insight to help parents identify specific traits that a child may possess that could indicate an interest or aptitude for STEM.
A love of Legos, brilliant math skills and master puzzle solving abilities are among the most obvious signs of STEM aptitude. But does that mean we should rule out ‘girly girls’ or struggling math students as some of the next great contributors to STEM innovation? Not necessarily.
Below are five surefire ways to keep girls out of STEM that are based on misinformation or outdated thinking.
1. Treat her like a boy.
In the quest to open more opportunities for girls to succeed in STEM, the goal is not to discourage her from being true to herself. Children can hone their creativity and problem-solving skills whether they’re playing with dolls or Hot Wheels. Taking an interest in STEM does not require compromising her femininity. Natural child’s play that involves costumes, sparkles and dreams of happily-ever-after all provide fuel for the imagination. Creativity and the ability to bring vibrant color – both metaphorically and literally - to an otherwise black-and-white world are key ingredients for the problem-solving scenarios of STEM careers.
Chemical Engineer, Marissa Buck, shares how her love of art as a child “helped develop creativity that is important for finding innovative solutions to problems.” Our future innovators will be a beautiful melting pot of shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, interests and talents - we need it that way.
2. Count her out because math is not her strong suit.
Let’s be honest. Not everyone is math-oriented and not everyone is going to take joy in studying calculus, physics and logarithms. But before assuming that math isn’t her ‘thing’, examine the reasons why. It could be that 1) she already subconsciously believes that math is too hard, 2) she has yet to encounter that life-impacting teacher (which can make all the difference), or 3) maybe her potential has yet to be tapped, as in the scenario below.
Morgan Vickery is pursuing her computer science degree at UNC Chapel Hill and shares how she unexpectedly discovered her career choice. “I always enjoyed the arts, but when I accidentally enrolled in an Introduction to Programming course, I felt like a whole new world of creation had been opened up to me!”
While it’s true that most STEM fields require a solid math aptitude, there are a multitude of ancillary (and equally exciting) career paths that don’t require a labor force of mathematicians. We need great teachers, business entrepreneurs, tech-savvy creatives, specialists to operate new machinery and devices, just to name a few. Every child – whether they’re a STEM protégé or not - can benefit from exposure to STEM fields and a greater understanding of the possibilities.
3. Assume she won’t be interested in STEM jobs.
A 2016 survey conducted by The Institution of Engineering and Technology in the U.K. found that only seven percent of parents thought that engineering would appeal to their daughter as a career choice. This shocking statistic points to a significant lack of knowledge among parents who do not understand the array of career paths available to engineers. Engineering is not just about ‘building bridges’ as the old school thought process might suggest. Engineering is about exciting and gratifying careers with opportunities to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
As we look for ways to ignite passion for STEM in younger girls, we must also be cognizant of the need for parents to grow their knowledge as well. That’s why we’ve made all of the research we’ve gathered from women in STEM freely available on STEMGirlsBooks.com. Parents can read stories and hear directly from experts about the unique and highly rewarding career options.
4. Replace her crafts with Legos.
Creativity is an important part of STEM careers. Like puzzles, craft projects develop problem-solving skills and the ability not only to ‘see’ the possibilities but also to bring that vision to life. Legos, building blocks and other such toys are marvelous ways to identify and build STEM skills, but they are not the only clues. What is more important than force-fitting a particular toy into the hands of a child is identifying that child’s natural preferences, nurturing the areas that they tend to gravitate to (including music and art), and understanding the significance and possibilities of each.
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineer, Annie Jones-Wyatt, shares the important role of arts and crafts in the design process of STEM, as it leads to the ability to “draw, sculpt, design and build your own inventions and creations.”
5. Underestimate the job opportunities.
With the push for girls in STEM, some may expect a wave of female STEM enthusiasts to saturate the market within the next decade. The fact is, STEM drives innovation and there will never be a shortage of need for superior problem solving skills that are developed with a STEM-related education.
In a recent interview, Accenture’s Rumman Chowdhury recalled how her love for reading and research unknowingly prepared her to succeed in a career that didn’t even exist when she was a child. Now an emerging leader in data science and artificial intelligence, Rumman’s story is a good reminder of how versatile and crucial these skills are in an ever-changing, technology-driven world. There will always be jobs for talented, ambitious women in STEM to help solve the problems known today, as well as the ones to come.
Encouraging girls in STEM is about tapping into their natural curiosity and keeping their hearts and minds open to pursue what comes naturally to them. Embrace not only building blocks and puzzles, but also her desires to play with dolls, paint messy pictures, explore the backyard, or dream with the happily-ever-after princesses, knowing that these activities do not prevent her from changing the world one day through science, technology, engineering and math.
With more equal representation in the STEM fields, it’s a win-win for everyone: girls have greater opportunities to excel in fields that may otherwise seem off limits and our world benefits from more collective talents driving innovation and the future of possibilities.
Kristi Grigsby is an award-winning marketing consultant and writer with over 20 years of experience growing companies within numerous industries including technology/software, financial services, telecommunications and healthcare. She is also founder of STEM Girls Books, a picture book series designed to introduce young girls to the possibilities of STEM.
While the characters in the motion picture Hidden Figures will inspire new dreams, the new picture book series, STEM Girls Books, will provide exposure to the exciting possibilities of STEM along with real role models for girls as young as three.
The lack of girls in STEM fields is no surprise to anyone. Education World cited an Australian study, which concluded that if girls increased their confidence, an estimated 75% more women would be working in STEM professions. Additional research from the University of Illinois shows that by age six, girls are already doubting their own intelligence.
Although STEM programs are becoming more accessible to young girls, they are often not introduced until the teen years. STEM Girls Books seeks to change that.
STEM Girls Books is a series of picture books for ages 3-8 that explore the excitement of STEM careers and inspire little girls to dream big. While the book series is currently in development, feedback is being collected from real women in STEM who are sharing their stories and encouraging young girls to aim high and follow their dreams. The interviews are profiled on the website and provide a simplistic yet captivating view of a specific STEM field so that young girls will see that these careers are cool for girls too.
For example, Sharon Diaz, Ph.D., taps into the appeal of Superheroes to explain medical research. "In our bodies, the Superheroes are our immune cells. They are the good guys that defend our bodies against the villains. The villains are things that cause disease like bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and other things that can make us sick. Medical researchers find ways to help our Superheroes (immune cells) defend our bodies against disease."
Amazing young women have already shared their stories and all women in STEM are invited to participate. Girls and their parents will find inspiring stories from chemical, biomedical and mechanical engineers, research scientists, computer programmers and more. While girls will leave the movie theater with new dreams planted from Hidden Figures, they can go to STEMGirlsBooks.com and explore more possibilities from real women in STEM.
Visit http://www.STEMGirlsBooks.com to learn more.