Lean In...to Failure!
The entrepreneur's mantra "fail fast, fail often" may be a cliche at this point, but the notion of embracing failure as an opportunity to learn and improve is a lesson we should be teaching all kids — especially girls. Not because we want them to "iterate" and "pivot" — childhood, after all, is not a startup venture.
It's because failure is an inevitable reality, a necessary part of growing up. Failing can feel terrible. It's disappointing. But the sooner our kids learn to manage that disappointment without getting discouraged, the easier it will be to pick themselves up and try, try again. It's called resilience, and it's a critical character trait for anyone, in any line of work. But it's particularly indispensable for STEM endeavors that require serial experimentation, testing hypotheses, building and breaking things.
Girls too often get the implicit message that failure is socially unacceptable, something to be avoided. Studies have shown that girls have avoided STEM subjects out of fear that they cannot easily demonstrate perfect mastery. I was glad to see "Acknowledge Struggle" among the suggestions in this article on encouraging girls to get interested in STEM. And I loved seeing Jessica Droujko, the mechanical engineering student behind the STEMinine vlog, devote a few segments to it.
So, here's to teaching our girls to fail early, fail often, and shake it off.