What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Those of us who represent people of color and are currently working in STEM fields can serve as mentors for girls and young women as well as underrepresented minorities. Informal mentorship and mentorship programs can help individuals from these groups connect with professionals, get guidance, and develop skills to succeed in STEM fields.

We can also serve as role models by taking opportunities for leadership. Serving as a role model leader can inspire and will encourage those from underrepresented groups to think of STEM as a viable career option for everyone.

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

The percentage of women earning degrees and working in STEM areas, such as science and engineering, has steadily increased over the past decade. According to the U.S. Census, women were 27 percent of STEM workers in 2019 compared to 8 percent in 1970.

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 journeyed through various roles in the STEM field. I began my career working as an engineer before becoming a patent attorney. I worked as a R&D engineer first and a R&D manager later in the area of product development for medical devices. While still working in engineering, I became interested in patents and decided to go to law school at night. I’m now a patent attorney at the law firm of Fish & Richardson, which specializes in intellectual property.

During my STEM career journey, I have experienced wonderful support and mentorship from women leaders and peers. And I know that I greatly benefited from inspiring mentors, both men and women, who have helped me advance and evolve my career. I’ve gained life-long friendships with many of my former women peers that I have met during my journey.

A positive trend that shows an increased number of women engaging STEM careers over the past decade will likely continue in 2023 and beyond. It will be helpful that many companies and organizations are now promoting gender equality, diversity, and inclusion to support women in STEM fields. I believe that these and other similar efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM will have a positive impact on women and encourage them to succeed in STEM fields in the future.