Girls with Dreams: A Book Review
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If you are the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, teacher or mentor of a girl of any age, I encourage you to get to know Natasha Ravinand, the author of Girls With Dreams: Inspiring Girls to Code and Create in the New Generation

From the back cover:

A high school girl with a passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Natasha Ravinand has dedicated most of her teen life to closing the gender gap in tech. In GIRLS WITH DREAMS, she analyzes:

  • societal biases that enlargen the gender gap in the sciences
  • obstacles in the way of stystemic change
  • solutions for a better and more inclusive tomorrow

Interviewing successful female engineers, CEOs, and industry leaders. Natasha hopes to send one message, loud and clear, to her peers of today: anyone can learn how to code and create for the betterment of tomorrow.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review, and I agreed to do this because the topic alone interested me. Once I learned more about Natasha, I was even more eager to read this book. After the first few pages, I was hooked, and you will be, too.

Fallen Away Girls

A gifted writer, Ravinand knows how to keep her readers’ interest, and often does so by interjecting pop culture into short anecdotes about her life as a teen and pre-teen who was interested in STEM activities. Because of years of conditioning and societal bias, often tried to hide these interests and natural gifts. Ravinand discusses how and why many (most?) girls who once had been interested in pursuing STEM activities, fall away in high school, missing out on pursuing the dreams they once had.

The Research

Not only does the author engage her readers with stories of her life, the statistics and research that she includes in the book are quite powerful, and I dare say, potentially life-changing to girls who can get their hands on the information. For example, even today only 29% of STEM workers are women. And another interesting fact: It was only in 2014, 82 years after its creation, that the LEGO company released a set of figures depicting females in STEM activities and pursuits.

History Lessons

Ravinand weaves history lessons throughout her book, teaching us about women who have made significant contributions to STEM ideas, such as Ada Lovelace (The Countess of Lovelace, born in 1815), Margaret Heafield Hamilton, born in 1936, Sheryl Sandburg, (current COO of Facebook), and many more that I’m guessing most of her readers had never heard of, and certainly didn’t learn about in school.

Closing the Gender Gap

Aside from simply discussing the gender gap in the STEM fields, Ravinad makes concrete suggestions about what can be done now to save girls from getting swallowed in the societal biases. One thing Ravinand has done to “try to spread the wonder of STEM to those who might not be aware of it” was do create She Dreams in Code (SDIC), a Southern California non-profit dedicated to bringing awareness to the tech gender gap. You see, the gender gap in these areas are not limited to the United States, this is a world-wide issue. Ravinand adds to the this discussion by giving us glimpses of some of the ways in which women all over the world are fighting to close the gender gap when it comes to education.

She says,

So, what does the ideal future look like? Well, it’d break down into a few parts:

  • Gender stereotypes are minimal to non-exisitent
  • Education is accessible to all citizens of the world
  • STEM education is stressed and available for all those who choose to pursue it

I encourage you to purchase this book, read it yourself, and share it with your middle and high school girls. If we all do just one of the things that Ravinand suggests, we can make this world a better place, not only for girls (and ultimately women), but for all people, everywhere. It’s that important.

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