Increasing Diversity in STEM
In my opinion, to increase diversity in STEM fields, we have to focus on two main contributors: willingness and support. Women and minorities must be willing to seek education and careers in STEM fields. To increase willingness, we need to improve the ways women and minorities are inspired and motivated to pursue these paths. They need support and encouragement from their families, educators, and hiring authorities. Greater awareness about education and careers in STEM would increase the willingness and support of the general public. Companies should also promote diversity in the workplace by implementing necessary instruction and procedures.
Barriers to Closing the STEM Gender Gap
I see four main barriers to closing the gender gap in STEM fields: The definition of success, male-domination of the industry, women’s low self-confidence in pursuing STEM careers, and the lack of public awareness.
- The definition of success and the path forward is not clear in STEM fields. This makes young women more hesitant to pursue a career in these unfamiliar fields.
- The male domination in STEM deters many women from choosing these careers. The stereotypes and sexism women encounter lead many to pursue other careers.
- The lack of self-confidence women feel with regard to STEM fields may lead them to choose other careers where they feel more confident and respected.
- Finally, a lack of public awareness is another important factor contributing to the STEM gender gap.
Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career
I’ve had a good experience working in STEM, due in large part to my interest in physics, finance, electrical engineering, and management. It is important to choose a career path based on your strengths and interests. Back home in Iran, students choose between three different paths in high school: biological sciences, physics and mathematics, or humanities. Ideally, the choice is made based on grades in specific subjects and interest in specific fields. This helps the student understand their capabilities and interests rather than stereotyping a specific career field. It is also very important that you enjoy your everyday work. While it’s not easy being a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I find it motivating and proactively seek new challenges which has been beneficial to my career development.