The Changing World of STEM
A woman in a chemical engineering class is not the unicorn she once was. We are certainly seeing more and more resources, programming, and incentives being devoted to increasing diversity in STEM fields, and I expect that will only continue in the future. We are seeing some industries and some specific companies take intentional steps to close the gender gap; the goal is to make that universal.
We need to provide women opportunities to advance in STEM fields and help them succeed when they get those opportunities. Mentorship and sponsorship are critical to doing so. Making sure that women have the tools they need to get to the next level, and that they are supported by women who are already there, will help to usher in the next generation of women leaders in STEM.
Breaking Down Barriers for Women in STEM
The biggest barrier to closing the gender gap is lack of intentionality. We need to continue to work together to increase the accessibility to, and attractiveness of, all different types of STEM fields for women. Too often we leave these things to be pushed by societal change, as opposed to driving the change ourselves.
STEM companies need to continue to be leaders in this endeavor by taking bold and intentional steps to recruit, retain, and advance women, and by trumpeting those steps to show service providers and other businesses the benefits of a diverse workforce.
My Own STEM Experience
I have been fortunate over the years to have had many great mentors who helped shape my career in a STEM field. I have had the opportunity to work with women with very different backgrounds, different personalities, and different approaches to work and management. And I have seen them all succeed in their fields.
I’ve also had the opportunity to work with men who recognize some of the difficulties women face in STEM fields and have tried to be part of the solution. I believe (and hope) that future generations will only see more and more of that.