Barriers to Closing the STEM Gender Gap
I read a great article last year by Terri Williams on W2.0 that spoke to this issue, and it resonated with me. One thing she mentioned was stereotypes between genders. These are deeply rooted in our culture and start at an early age, when we walk down the toy aisle and see a distinct divide between Barbie and Superman. While sometimes subtle, these can greatly impact our ability to confidently pursue anything.
As we grow up, these gender normative stereotypes continue. Women too often are subject to statements like, “Girls are sweet and pretty, and boys are smart and strong,” or “Good girls don’t act like this,” and “So, when are you getting married?” or “When are you having children?”
Yes, many strides have been made, but this isn’t about seeing Superman excited about going to his Malibu beach house in high heels supporting disproportionate dimensions, nor is this is about seeing Barbie fight bad guys. What it’s about is representation.
Moving Women Forward in STEM
The answer to moving anyone forward in STEM is simple: opportunity. From education to visibility in the workplace and leadership positions to networking, support from peers and colleagues alike to provide equal opportunity is essential.
At Xandr, we go a long way to provide employees of all backgrounds and at all levels the opportunity to achieve their goals. Opening Slack channels to celebrate successes, hosting hackathons that provide employees opportunities to solve complex challenges in creative ways, engaging with nonprofits, and creating open forums with leadership are just a few ways we do this.
What Else I’d Like Readers to Know
Now is the time to pay it forward and be the representation that we might not have had growing up. There is a younger generation that has nothing but opportunity in front of them, and it’s on us to show them what they can achieve. I want to challenge each and every one of us to think about how we’re paying it forward—each day, week, month, or year. How are we making a difference in the STEM community?