We have all seen the headlines – girls and women are falling behind in STEM fields. STEM, which is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math, is critical for learning of all kinds, and it can translate later in life to higher salaries and different kinds of job potential.
Currently there are far fewer women in the STEM fields than men, and women on average in the US earn 78% of what men do. Some estimates show that the number of women in the STEM fields is as low as 23%, while women now make up about half of the overall work force. Money can enter into the picture when you consider things like the highest paid college majors. According to a Wall Street Journal article, every one of the top-ten highest paid college majors are math, technology, and/or engineering-related.
Women tend to have more debt than men beginning in early adulthood. Studies show the gender income gap starting in the first year after graduating from college. Research shows that women earn less than men coming out of college, and that gender inequality continues throughout life. Less income tends to equal more debt in this case. And that’s just one issue.
As an expert on girls and women’s financial literacy, I would also argue that STEP ability and interest can be related not just to earnings, but to financial understanding in general. For obvious reasons, financial understanding is critical for financial independence and well-being. Given women’s lower earnings, savings rates, and higher likelihood than men to be in poverty at retirement, financial literacy is critical.
Bitcoin is an interesting topic for girls for many reasons. First of all, Bitcoin is a means of exchange. It trades on a market, and its value fluctuates, just like financial instruments of all kinds, including currencies, stocks and bonds. So learning to understand how Bitcoin works can help with multi-dimensional financial understanding.
But Bitcoin understanding brings something else to the table, especially for girls who are falling behind in STEM engagement. Bitcoin is plain and simple a technology product. As a digital currency that can be mined, understanding Bitcoin means understanding technology. Mining the currency is a process involving solving complex algorithms to confirm transactions. Bitcoin are then awarded to individuals who mine the currency successfully.
Bitcoin education provides some interesting opportunities for helping girls become more financially literate, and technologically engaged, at the same time. It is clear that both financial understanding, and STEM engagement, can contribute to financial independence and well-being. For women, that need is critical.