What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?
Increasing diversity in STEM requires conscious efforts in schools, workplaces, and within communities. In my view, mentorship programs, both in school and the workplace, can be an asset as they help build confidence through sharing of experiences and promoting an inclusive environment. Investing in providing exposure and access to STEM education when a child is young is another way to increase diversity. STEM access through early education can contribute to generating interest, providing experience, and building confidence in students. Lastly, dedicated efforts to make people aware of workplace bias (conscious and unconscious) and building an inclusive culture that provides growth opportunities is also a great way to increase diversity.
How is the world changing with respect to STEM?
In today’s world, STEM is an integral part of our fabric of life. We can recognize the presence of STEM in our everyday lives more than ever before. There are very few professions that haven’t been impacted by the advancements in STEM. This has provided men and women with STEM skills newer opportunities for growth and career advancement. While there are opportunities, it is also important to recognize that the challenges of tomorrow require a different mindset and thinking. Therefore, the importance of investing in STEM education is critical.
What can be done to move women forward in STEM?
Conscious efforts must be made to retain women and to create career pathways for them while fostering inclusive workplace cultures. Mentorship programs, along with partnerships with various communities, go a long way for building confidence, providing access to visible role models and skill development. Organizations could also benefit from establishing internal programs for creating paths to leadership and building a women’s network to help female employees encourage one another.
Where do you see women in STEM in five years?
If we take conscious measures to invest in women in STEM, I truly believe we will see more successful women in STEM roles. This increase can in turn help address bias and discrimination. Women bring unique perspectives and experiences to STEM fields, and I believe that their increased representation will lead to greater innovation and creativity in these fields.