For Girls, the Fruits of Success Can Grow from a Strong Start in STEM

St. Georgen, Germany, a student of the 8th Class in math class
October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child, set aside by the UN "to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls' lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential."

In other nations, any number of issues may hold girls back, but here in the U.S., one of the biggest barriers to that realization of full potential is academic: While 60 percent of college degrees go to women, only about 41 percent of high-paying engineering and science degrees do. And, to make things worse, the numbers of women in STEM professions -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- have remained stagnant since 2000.

One way to remedy that is by early intervention -- finding ways to get younger girls involved in STEM, and then keep them enthusiastic about it. Numerous programs with have been launched with that goal in mind, by companies as diverse as PBS and Marvel Comics, -- not to mention individual states to the federal government.

But beyond those, there are a lot of apps, online games and other programs that you can use to help the girl in your life learn important money lessons. Here are a few of our favorites:

Money Lessons from a Financial Guru

Various companies, notably Funny Money, have tried the technique of using short videos to teach valuable money lessons.
The best of the bunch is probably Warren Buffett's Secret Millionaire's Club -- although, to be honest, it's a pretty low bar. As I wrote a few months ago, the SMC lessons have a lot going for them: They're short, simple, and easy-to-understand, with lively humor and pretty solid graphics. On the other hand, they also tend to get a bit surreal, and are occasionally a little outdated. Still, if you're looking for a quick, effective way to teach your children about basic money topics, Warren Buffett's show is a great place to start.

Math Puzzles

As one might expect, there are a lot of solid math games and apps out there. If your child likes puzzles and you want to focus on straight math skills, you might start with some programs aimed at younger kids, like Kids Numbers and Math Lite or Bugs and Numbers. For older children, Math Workout, Algebra Tutor and Dragon Box Algebra all offer interesting, engaging ways to segue into more advanced math concepts.

Entrepreneurship Games

On the entrepreneurship front, some fun standouts include Tiny Tower, a sort of mini SimCity, albeit with very old fashioned graphics; The Game of Life, an app-based version of the old-fashioned budgeting game, or Bee Farming, a business/marketing game that neatly hides the bitter pill of math education in a spoonful of ... well, honey. And while these are particularly good, there are literally hundreds of other great games out there that can teach your favorite girl about the basics of budgeting and investment.

Real World

Sooner or later, your favorite girl will enter the real world and will have to start budgeting on her own. Some schools are using Junior Achievement's JA Finance Park Virtual to teach their students about real-life budgeting and spending. Even without school involvement, you can log in and try it out. Or, if you're interested in giving a little more real-world guidance, there are simple budgeting programs like P2K, Tykoon and Kids Money that can help out.

Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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"While 60 percent of college degrees go to women..." That is an enormous disparity. If that percentage reflected election results, the election would be called a landslide. Why not focus on, and seek to narrow, that glaring disparity? Could it be that doing so would offend the prevailing tenets of political correctness and violate the goddess of feminism? Tragically, as the result of misandrous feminist propaganda, women's centers, women's studies, far more tuition grant monies made available to women and far more women-only colleges than men-only colleges, male Americans are becoming increasingly marginalized on college campuses across the country. Hence, it is not surprising that they constitute only 40 percent of America's enrolled college students. If this disturbing trend continues unabated, soon male college students will become extinct -- evidently the goal of contemporary American feminism...and AOL.

October 09 2013 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Teach your daughters to aspire to more than a 38DDD bra and imitating the current group of hollywood actresses who are addicted to themselves, drugs, alcohol and narcissism...

October 09 2013 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it's quite obvious that women don't like stem professions. When will people get it that some things are just the way they are. Women are nurturers and most women don't like enineering and math!! I know I don't and neither does my daughter. So what?? Why do women need to be in Stem professions? Who made that rule? And why aren't we pushing for men to be preschool teachers? We all know the answer to that!!!!!!!!

October 09 2013 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In REALITY, the UN, itself, is guilty of rank sexism. Tragically, while proclaiming its commitment to humanitarianism and egalitarianism, the UN has callously turned its back on much of humanity – i.e., men. The UN’s recent creation of “UN Women,” without any corresponding entity devoted to ending institutional discrimination against men, underscores the UN’s blatant asymmetry in dealing with issues of gender. WHO's “Health Topics Index,” for example, has a category for “women's health,” but nothing for men's health. Although the UN has repeatedly condemned sexual violence against women, it has virtually ignored well-documented cases of widespread sexual violence against men in the Congo, Chile, Bosnia, Iran and elsewhere. In response to recent natural disasters, including the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the UN’s WFP instituted a policy of targeting women for food distribution, blatantly discriminating against men. And, the UN has never adopted any resolution decrying male-only military conscription, which, globally, has condemned millions of men, because or their gender, to horrific suffering and death. Moreover, to its eternal shame, the UN, through its “peacekeepers,” stood by and did nothing while some 8,000 MEN AND BOYS were rounded up and brutally slaughtered in Srebrenica in 1995, in perhaps the worst instance of targeted gender-based killing in the history of Western civilization. The Srebrenica massacre speaks volumes about the UN and how little it values men’s welfare and men’s lives.

October 09 2013 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

what does STEm mean?

October 09 2013 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what does STEm mean?

October 09 2013 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply