Breaking down Barriers for Women in STEM

In order to close the gender gap in STEM, we need to eliminate gender-related stereotypes and encourage both girls and boys to get involved with—and excited about—STEM at a very early age. As much as we don’t like to admit it, children grow up limited by the stereotype that boys should enjoy math and science, and girls should gravitate toward subjects like reading and writing. Educators, and of course parents, have a duty to eliminate gender biases, so that both boys and girls will recognize that they can pursue whatever they’re genuinely passionate about—not just what others may expect of them.

How the STEM World Is Changing

The rate at which technology is evolving today is unprecedented; something new can arrive and grow immensely popular, and just as quickly become obsolete and disappear. For older generations, who didn’t grow up with this pace of change, it’s often hard to adjust. But for my young daughter, who learned how to navigate my new iPhone faster than I did, understanding such tech seems to come naturally. Because our children start from a more technically advanced place, they are more interested in, and better equipped to understand and use, new technology.

Women in STEM 5Years Out

In the next five years, I think we’ll see greater gender diversity in STEM for two reasons. First, women are becoming a force to be reckoned with across industries—today, we have female CEOs, founders, and more. When looking at how the presence of women in STEM—and in the workforce at large—has grown from my mother’s generation to mine, I can only imagine what future generations may look like.

Second, and more important, I think we’ll see more women in STEM in future years because diversity facilitates better business outcomes. It’s undeniable that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently, leading us to have different thought processes and arrive at different answers to the same questions. As a leader, I believe that the more diversity you have sitting at the table—not just with regard to women, but across ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds—the better the outcome typically is. And businesses everywhere are beginning to embrace this concept.