What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Improve and target recruitment of diverse candidates at the college level with financial and structural support that makes it possible for diverse candidates to attend and graduate with STEM degrees. At the same time, workplaces that specialize in STEM fields should intentionally recruit diverse candidates, and then provide support so they can stay in these fields. And, we should increase the visibility and representation of diverse scientists, engineers, and professionals in STEM fields.

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Barriers to closing the gender gap in STEM start in elementary school with gender stereotypes and social norms. STEM activities often cater towards boys more than girls and toy manufacturers market STEM toys differently towards different genders. Compounding the negative imaging is the fact that girls have fewer role models to inspire their interest in the field. Before girls get to college, girls have often lost the confidence or the opportunity to pursue STEM fields, which then leads to fewer women in STEM fields in college and the workforce.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

Change comes slowly, but I hope that the number of women in STEM will grow as research and attention to the issues holding women back increases, and as young women see more role models in women who are currently in leadership positions in STEM fields.

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?

I have found my experience in a STEM career to be very rewarding. As a patent litigator at a law firm in D.C., my job is the perfect interplay of law and science. My science background is an invaluable asset in my job, and helps me navigate cases that involve all technologies. Before I was a patent litigator, I worked at technology companies, and my experience there has been relevant and useful to my career in law.

If you are interested in STEM, reach out to a woman in a leadership position in a STEM field and ask her to mentor you. Learn as much as you can and know that some of the systemic and structural barriers to succeeding as a woman in STEM are being broken down.