What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?
One of the most effective ways of increasing diversity in STEM fields is by introducing awareness of the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the earliest stages of students’ academic careers, beginning in elementary school. No child is too young to become a scientist, technologist, engineer, or mathematician. By dedicating sufficient resources — especially within school communities that serve populations that are traditionally under-represented in a STEM career — that expose children to a broad spectrum of foundational STEM topics, we can ignite their passion for innovation early and plant the seeds for a broader range of perspectives in the future.
How is the world changing with respect to STEM?
As STEM careers attract more diverse talent, ideas and innovation continue to flourish. From this, we all benefit from more sophisticated technology that targets a broader swath of the population. When we have a greater number of people traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields thinking about technical problems, the solutions they craft will better reflect diverse populations’ greatest challenges. For example, until recently, using an electric breast pump required noisy, cumbersome equipment, and it wasn’t at all discreet. Over time, the electric breast pump developed into a cordless, quiet device that affords women flexibility to express breastmilk anywhere.
Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career. What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2023?
I have been fortunate to have had strong role models throughout my life showing me that there isn’t just one way to build a career. I have looked up to them and carefully watched how they developed their careers while balancing their family lives. My mom was a medical technologist before having kids and always empowered me to strive for success in STEM fields. Both of the federal judges for whom I clerked paved very successful careers while raising sons, modeling an important example of raising men who respect women leaders. My husband (who is also in a STEM career) saw his mother work as a senior technology executive at a prominent university and has been a tremendous partner at home. When women are empowered and supported in their chosen careers, regardless of the field, they have the opportunity to thrive.