All that got me thinking about how if someone asked me what kind of books I would recommend for young women interested in STEM, what would I actually recommend? So here's my list (it's mostly author and series based). It's for pre-teens and teens (for Pre-School to 4th grade, I'll make a separate list one day).
1) Agatha Christie novels
2) Nancy Drew series
3) Hardy Boys series
4) R.L. Stine (specifically Fear Street Series)
5) Christopher Pike
6) Mary Higgins Clark (probably for older teens)
7) Babysitters Club
8) Sweet Valley High
9) The Hunger Game Series
10) The Divergent Series
I know these books having shaped my life (in some way) if I still own a few
The first five items on the list, might have you scratching your head. It's simple. They're all books about mysteries (some supernatural mysteries), and what is at the heart of a mystery? Deducing who done it. By trying to deduce who done it or the twist of these kinds of books, I was taping into my reasoning and problem solving skills, It's also about observation and paying attention to details. I was using that left side/science side of my brain. So maybe other girls (and boys) might consider going into sciences if they read books where they have to observe and deduce. That's my thoughts on that subject. :-)
The next two series, Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High, both gave me this sense that friendship, in particular female friendship, is important. To this day, I don't think I would have made it far with the support of my friends (also family and husband). Sweet Valley High also tackled some difficult issues, but showed that you aren't always alone (whether through the Wakefields' family bond or the strong friendships in those books). And a quick note specifically about the Babysitters Club series.
The series kind of instilled a sense of work ethic (probably also my first example of female entrepreneurship haha, but not my first example of a working woman and mother; that first example is set by my own mother). It instilled this work ethic while balancing other aspects of their lives and showed how important supportive friends are for a work/life balance. It's why I sought employment in babysitting at the young age of 12. :-)
The last two, well, it's pretty simple for me: they have strong female lead characters. Sure someone people probably see these books as a romance book only, but for me, both Katniss and Tris (name similarity alert! just realized that) had serious career issues to deal with (for lack of a better work) while maintaining a life balance (friends, family, lovers, etc.) and they had to deal with deep emotions (and I think they handled those emotions fairly well). Haha, I know that is maybe a weird way to look at those series, but I think for young women and men, these ladies are good role models.
So there's my list of books to encourage female adolescents (and males too!) into STEM careers. At least, those are the books (minus the last two on the list, as I read them as an adult, but still find value in them for young adults) that played a small part in leading me to to my path as engineer. Sure, maybe I over analyzed how today I think those books influenced me, but I won't negate the fact that they did in some way influence me. What books have possibly been an influence in your life?