What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?
Increasing the diversity of STEM begins with allowing and encouraging all people to be their authentic selves. For decades, girls have been conditioned to suppress their interests in STEM fields. We need to ensure that when anyone expresses their curiosity or desire to learn these skills that we encourage that exploration. STEM is about problem solving and problem solving is best accomplished when we have truly diverse and unique perspectives at the table working together to consider all possible solutions. If we show people they have a place and they belong at that table, that’s when we will see diversity truly blossom and make us all better.
Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career. What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2023?
As a woman in STEM, I have seen the incredible strength and resiliency that is derived from women coming together to make our voices heard and our value seen. Yes, I’ve had to put up with many of the unfortunate attitudes and assumptions that I’ve described earlier. However, I’ve also seen the pure excitement in the eyes of young women and girls as they explore technology and learn how all these amazing things work. It’s an indescribable feeling to find your “tribe” in this space and feel the mutual support that seems to flourish in those settings. As an executive leader who’s achieved so many of the goals I’ve set for myself, there is nothing I enjoy more than talking with other women who are launching their careers. It’s wonderful to see the hope that my visibility and my representation gives them for their own futures. This is why it is so crucial that we amplify recognition of the many incredible women who are crushing it in STEM careers.
I think it is important that we stop thinking of women “breaking into” STEM. If we look objectively at the history of technology and engineering, we see that women have been making considerable contributions for generations to fields in technology. Names like Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, Katherine Johnson, Katalin Karikó, and so many others have been here and continue to be here. Ensuring that their contributions aren’t pushed aside or forgotten about is crucial not only for welcoming other women into technology careers but also for ensuring the ongoing excellence in innovations. It should be acknowledged that women have repeatedly proven our place in STEM. There is no room for discounting women or diminishing our capabilities based on gender. Society needs to do better so we can be better.