My Experiences in STEM
Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have a circle of male allies who championed me and my work, and operated with a gender-agnostic mentality. These colleagues and mentors offered me opportunities to demonstrate my skills, were accommodating to the needs and demands of being a working mother, and shared their network to strengthen my personal brand. They taught me how to think “like a man” in the field—a necessary tactic as I was beginning my career.
Young women in STEM are still facing the challenge of their work being accepted and appreciated in a male-dominated field. As a leader in a large, innovative IT organization, I have an obligation to help those who are advancing in their careers. I have earned a seat at the table and with that seat, I am an advocate for this cohort and can open the doors that will help early and mid-level talent have the opportunities they need to build their skill sets, develop professionally, showcase their talent, and advance in their careers. It’s my time to create a space for women in STEM, so that their talents are not only seen but also appreciated.
How the STEM World Is Changing
STEM fields are much more welcoming to females today compared to 20 years ago. There has been acknowledgement of the gender gap, focused action among employers to improve the balance within their organizations, and increasing equity in education opportunities to advance female technologists. With a majority of the fastest-growing jobs in the United States requiring significant math and science skills, it would be a missed opportunity to continue to overlook women in these fields.
A more diverse workforce with individuals who bring different life experiences and perspectives has been proven to increase creativity and foster innovation. Organizations have started moving in the right direction, encouraging women to continue to pursue careers in STEM and recognizing their skills and contributions. While there are always opportunities for improvement, STEM today is a lot different from when I began my career.
Women in STEM Five Years from Now
I expect to see the gender gap narrow significantly over the course of the next five years—both in the number of women in STEM fields and in compensation disparity. The gap in highest-paid and fastest-growing STEM jobs available is significant, so I hope to see the ratio of females to males become balanced in all settings, from entry-level to the board room. As more women advance, those who take on senior leadership positions have a unique opportunity to help solve the problem by acting as mentors and providing early-career talent with role models.