Moving Women Forward in STEM

To move women forward in STEM, we need to cultivate an environment that celebrates women’s accomplishments in STEM. Every woman headed up the STEM ladder needs to reach down and take others with her. And we need to encourage the men in our lives to do the same.

Breaking Down Barriers for Women in STEM

Barriers begin in K-12 settings, and are propagated through college and beyond. Girls need to see successful women in STEM and be encouraged to go boldly into what may be unknown and challenging territory. Barriers in the workplace include exclusivity and lack of flexibility. Acknowledging family responsibilities for men as well as women—and normalizing conversation about family commitments—will help reduce the gender gap as well.

The advancement of women in STEM requires a significant investment in individuals, creating a pipeline of talent, and ensuring that the women in that pipeline don’t bail out for reasons like harassment, discrimination, lack of flexibility, lack of opportunity, and inequitable pay. There no magic cure. It is being in the trenches every day, encouraging others, standing up for others, promoting others, working together, and asking for more.

My Own Experiences in STEM

In my graduate chemistry program, there was one woman for every six men. The percentage of women practicing intellectual property law in my office was much lower than that for many years. And now, although the percentage is higher, most of the women are in the lower and mid-level ranks. Still, I have always felt appreciated and respected. My current firm provides amazing professional development, mentoring, and career advancement opportunities.

Being a woman in STEM is full of challenges and rewards. I have the satisfaction of doing what I love, making a contribution, and working with amazing colleagues. I see the challenges as opportunities to have meaningful conversations and find solutions that create a better workplace for all of us. Although recognition is nice, my greatest reward is watching the women I mentor grow, advance, and succeed.