Increasing Diversity in STEM
First, law schools must do more to attract diverse, STEM graduates and revamp curricula by offering classes on technology and business.
Second, retention begets recruitment. Diverse STEM candidates will look at a law firm’s mid-level and senior associate ranks as a predictor of their own chances for success.
Third, engage diverse lawyers in STEM issues early in their careers, working alongside senior attorneys who can mentor and sponsor them.
Lastly, increase the commitment to diversity through the Mansfield Rule, which requires law firms to measure whether at least 30% women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and lawyers with disabilities have been considered for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.
Barriers to Closing the Gender Gap in STEM
In the legal profession, attracting and developing more women in leadership roles requires firmwide change, driven from the top. Client teams and teams that pitch for new business must include women, and women must have opportunities to be touch points for clients.
Additionally, having open conversations with junior STEM lawyers shows STEM women that there is a way to manage a career and family. Instituting a workplace culture where “work” and “life” need not be two separate and distinct beings, and setting an example for rising STEM women that pursuing a family and pursuing a senior STEM position are not mutually exclusive will attract women to careers in STEM and ensure they feel supported as they continue to develop.
Moving Women Forward in STEM
Attracting and maintaining girls and women in STEM fields early is essential. Family members and teachers play an important role in how girls perceive their capacity in STEM.
Having women role models and seeing women in leadership positions in STEM industries is also important. One study found that if girls were exposed to the achievements of as many women inventors as boys are exposed to the achievements of male inventors, the gender gap in innovation could be cut in half.
Another strategy is to include more women in research, which will in turn attract more women to science, because more careers and avenues of research will become relevant to women.