Increasing Diversity in STEM

Creating opportunities in middle school and high school for career exploration, and partnering with schools and industries that require STEM graduates in their workforce will increase diversity in STEM fields. Many companies would be interested in investing in the development of these students, offering college-credited courses in a dual enrollment model. This would benefit students who may have economic needs achieve credit hours tuition free, and open scholarship and grant opportunities. 

Barriers to Closing the Gender Gap

Historic stereotyping needs to be overcome. For example, nursing has long been viewed as a largely female career, secondary to the “caring” perspective. However, science and math are prerequisites and today’s nurses, who represent the largest workforce in the health care industry, are scholars. These nursing professionals partner with physicians, APPs, and pharmacists, and others to meet the complex needs of patients. 

Moving Women Forward in STEM

Early exposure to all that is possible for all genders is critical. Stories of women, men, and LGBT individuals serving in nontraditional roles, or preparing for careers, inspire children to consider STEM. Piquing a child’s interest between the ages of 11 and 14 opens her or his mind to possibilities. Industry-based experiential learning with immersion in STEM roles and careers also allows those who are interested to explore opportunities.

Women in STEM 5 Years Out

I believe that women will make up more than 50 percent of the workforce in STEM career areas. Additionally, I believe the academic sector will see a growing number of women in faculty and doctorate rolls.

My Own STEM Experience

Like many people I chose nursing as a career to care for people—it aligned with my purpose. But I also chose nursing because I enjoyed math and science, was a good STEM student, and recognized that I had the ability to achieve scholarship in the nursing profession.

Over my 40-year career, the profession has become more diverse, as the face of nursing changed from that of a “woman” to “any and all’ faces. Nursing is a career that offers diverse opportunities in health care and in many other industries. Growth and development opportunities for nurses appear to be endless, as new roles emerge outside health care. Telehealth, virtual care, and consumer convenience are transforming the industry and creating an even greater need for STEM nurses. And pride in the profession is strong, as the American people have named nursing the most trusted profession for more than 17 years!