What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?
It starts with educational opportunities that reach everyone in all corners of a community. Make sure middle school students see health care workers and scientists at work and know: This is one of the careers I can choose. STEM employers must have a good pipeline and training programs. And you can’t do any of this work without effective partners to help you be richly inclusive in your recruitment and outreach.
How is the world changing with respect to STEM?
STEM is more integrated into culture and into education from the earliest stages now, and that’s been a tremendous positive. We do a better job these days of connecting the dots between art, civic life and culture and showing how science helps drive those things, making learning fun and interactive at the same time. Planting love for science early is the key for setting people on the path to a fulfilling career in STEM.
What can be done to move women forward in STEM?
It goes back to listening and being intentionally, purposefully inclusive. Are women in your organization having an opportunity to lead? Are you hearing from a diverse array of voices when you build your programs and make big decisions? That commitment to diversity has to flow through every part of your organizational infrastructure.
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?
The changes I’ve seen as a woman in science are dramatic. My path from the laboratory to the boardroom took a long time. I was treated differently from my male colleagues, and I was an anomaly for most of my career. I’m still one of very few women to lead a cancer center.
I didn’t set out to be a scientist; I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I still love the arts, and it’s really important for young people to be encouraged to pursue all their interests. My work has been both exciting and rewarding, and I would recommend a career in science to anyone. It’s been an incredible honor to be a mentor to other women, to be in a position where I can create opportunities for exceptional young leaders.