Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.
Ask any woman currently in computer science about her roots, and chances are you'll hear a story about having someone in her childhood who was also immersed in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM). This phenomenon has led to a burst of mentorship programs targeted at increasing exposure to female professionals in STEM fields. Over the last couple of years, wonderful programs have emerged with this goal, including FabFems, MentorNet, and EnCorps.
While it's become obvious that access to mentors increases a girl's chances of making it through college with a computer science degree, we need to do more to get girls interested in pursuing those degrees in the first place.
You see, the girls who grew up with built-in STEM mentors were provided with another (often overlooked) benefit. They were exposed to the world of STEM at a much younger age than many of their friends, which means that they were more likely to be able to see themselves included within that lifestyle while they were forming their visions of what was possible for themselves as adults.
Girls who learn the basics of STEM at a very young age learn how to figure out solutions based on feedback. They learn to persist through failure and tackle the unknown. These are skills that can help put them at the head of the pack for the rest of their lives... no matter what they study.
In a time where only about 27 percent of college graduates are finding jobs related to their major, success becomes more about "learning to learn" than acquiring experience in any specific field. Because of that, some subjects shine above others. Computer Science is one of those. To help ensure that girls consider choosing computer science even after academic autonomy sets in, it is essential that they receive exposure as early as possible.
So, the next time you're trying to decide on an extracurricular activity for your kindergartener, look up your local high-quality technology club and get them involved in something spectacular. Show them that you value computer science, and maybe they will begin to, too.