Increasing Diversity in STEM
Creating diversity in STEM fields starts with early education and exposure to what the STEM fields have to offer. Creating opportunities through after-school activities and clubs in partnership with business volunteer and sponsorship programs, allows students to gain hands-on experience and build confidence in their own abilities and interests. These programs cannot discriminate in participation and need to be led by diverse individuals that bring different ways of engaging, as well as their passion for the field. Parents and other family members play a major role in encouraging and supporting curiosity, along with exploring what might be of interest to their children.
How the STEM World Is Changing
As we can all attest to, we are living through unique times and the advances being made in the STEM fields are changing our lives on a daily basis through technology, medical research, and even in the way cities and transportation are engineered. There is a renewed focus on the sustainability of our environmental resources and how we can live healthier lives. As the growth in STEM jobs is expected to outpace that of non-STEM jobs in the coming years, there are exciting opportunities ahead. But while the percentage of women in the STEM workforce continues to make gains, we still have a long way to go to full representation.
Women in STEM Five Years from Now
I am optimistic that we will continue to make strides in increasing the number of women in STEM fields. I see more organizations coming together in partnerships to create development and mentoring opportunities for young women to build their skills and confidence. I see more women leaders who are in senior roles paying it forward to help the next generation of women leaders.
My company partners with Girls Who Code and other organizations to provide our employees with opportunities to mentor and leverage their technical skills helping them to build their own leadership abilities. We have a very strong internship program that combines hands-on work with team-building and critical-thinking sessions. We continue to see an increase in female candidates in these programs. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic in which we all have been learning to function has opened up new ways of working and learning. I believe these new ways are here to stay and will help create a more diverse and accepting environment.