Gifted Girls and Vocational Development

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Research shows introducing gifted girls to a range of careers helps to support them think creatively and productively about their future career interests. Gifted students can exhibit extensive knowledge regarding careers but often do not receive the necessary information until much later than they need it. Some gifted students even acquire a passion for a career earlier than others, however, this is not always the case and the opposite can also occur.

During the school holidays, we hosted a Marine Biology course, which reached capacity within two days of opening for registrations. As the course filled, dozens of parents emailed me seeking a place for their child. Girls from seven to 12 years old – all adamant their future aspirations and passions lay in becoming a marine biologist or scientist.

To me, this strengthened the assertion that gifted girls can identify their future aspirations at a young age, so how can we support gifted girls in primary school who know what they want to work towards for their career?

As part of the Marine Biology course, our students heard from guest expert and marine scientist, Theda. She told them all about her career and her role working on Penguin Island, presented photos of different penguins she works with and brought many different items for the girls to look at, feel and discuss.

When Theda opened the floor to questions, she was inundated with burning, curious questions from students for more than 50 minutes. The girls learnt about eco-tourism on Penguin Island, their rehabilitation centre and different penguin behaviours in the wild. They heard stories of Theda and her marine scientist friends’ adventures working in fascinating and contrasting roles at marine sanctuaries across the world. They also asked questions about university studies, the flora and fauna of the ocean, the deadliest sea creatures and what jellyfish are made of.

The girls soaked up every bit of new information they could acquire during the two hours they spent with Theda, writing new questions on their post-it notes as fast as she was answering them. The room was abuzz at the end of the session, with curious and excited students discussing their ideas with new friends. Theda said she was inspired by the complexity and depth of the girls’ understanding.

I have been reflecting on the Imaginarium courses, and the engagement between the girls and experts who come in to present. I wonder how we continue to support these students in their vocational development. How do we expose girls to a range of career types to introduce them to ones they might not be aware of and provide them with the opportunities they need to learn more about different aspects of the role they aspire to?

The Imaginarium is all about developing girls’ social, cognitive, and emotional skills while providing vocational education at their level. Courses are developed according to the interests of gifted girls and their feedback after each course. Expert presenters are paramount for each course to support the girls’ vocational education. As the courses continue to be created, I often wonder who we will meet next and what interesting stories we will hear about their career and role in society. I am looking forward to reading through the girls’ feedback and ideas to start planning the next lot of courses and finding experts in those fields.