My Own STEM Experience
I’m fortunate that I had great male mentors who have encouraged and supported me in the beginning of my career. When I first started, I was lucky to know amazing leaders who helped me develop my information security skills, as well as leadership skills in general. These early connections helped me succeed.
My journey was not without challenges, particularly in the beginning when I had to fight against the stereotype that women couldn’t understand the nuts and bolts of technology. It wasn’t easy to overcome these perceptions, but with the help of mentors and determination on my part, I’m proud that I did. I’m glad that while young women and girls still face challenges in STEM, the obstacles are not as great as they used to be.
It doesn’t really matter where you are in your career. We all have a job to do. Just because someone is higher up doesn’t mean they have all the answers. The most important thing is to meet people where they are, understand where they are coming from, and show them how you can help them with your skill set and background. The key is building long-lasting relationships with people who will support your success. My very first day as a junior associate in a law firm, senior women took the time to sit down with me and answer any questions I had about our law practice in general or navigating this practice as a junior woman. These mentor relationships guided me as I learned not only how to be a trial lawyer and best serve my clients, but also how to be a working mother and best serve my family as well. The value of these female mentors is immeasurable. As a means of giving back, I aim to share my time and advice with junior women to, hopefully, give them the same feelings of inclusion and support that I experienced in my career.
How the STEM World Is Changing
For a start, having more women, including me, take on the CISO role is a major step forward. The CISO role has traditionally been held by men, so women taking charge means that some positive change has occurred. The same applies to the CTO role.
In addition, we’re seeing more diversity in engineering. More women are pursuing that path, which will help bring more women in upper-management roles overtime. Finally, education has become a crucial focus, with many schools around the country prioritizing STEM. This can help close the gap and bring young girls in as early as possible.
Where I See Women in STEM in Five Years
Women will be much closer to parity. There are many women in the world and an increasing number of them are joining STEM. It is inevitable.