Barriers to Closing the STEM Gender Gap
A lack of female role models is one of the most foundational barriers to closing the STEM gender gap. Businesses must develop robust leave and transition policies, so female employees don’t have to choose between having a family and having a career. For example, HARMAN’s Fair Pay Practices program in India connects female engineers who’ve balanced work and home with new mothers returning to work.
Businesses also need more programming focused on developing female talent. I’ve seen the benefits of such programs as a leader of the HARMAN Women’s Network. I’m proud that, today, women hold many top-ranking positions at HARMAN.
Finally, less funding for early STEM education geared towards girls translates to fewer women in STEM fields and lower salaries for those who pursue STEM careers.
Moving Women Forward in STEM
Studies show that women generally receive smaller grants then men, and that there are fewer STEM programs dedicated to women. This has real-world impact: women make about 20 percent less than men in STEM fields. To move women forward in STEM, we must close the funding gap.
Most successful women in STEM claim that a mentorship or internship program helped them reach their career goals. HARMAN provides mentorships to future leaders through organizations like the 1,000 Dreams Fund and to current employees via associations like HARMAN’s Women’s Network.
Ultimately, bolstering the presence of women in STEM must start at the beginning of young girls’ education. Educators need to correct their misconceptions regarding gender and STEM aptitude, and strive to create inclusive learning environments.
Women in STEM 5 Years down the Road
We must acknowledge that there is always more work to be done. The number of female role models in STEM is already increasing, and I think there will be a snowball effect as more women rise in the ranks and pull other strong female leaders along with them through mentorships and sponsorships.
The presence of successful women in STEM inspires young women to pursue similar careers, which is why companies need to make a conscious effort to eliminate gender bias, offer equal opportunities and benefits, and provide ongoing support and education. In five years, I hope to see more women holding prestigious positions at top STEM companies like HARMAN.