The World is Changing with STEM
If we look around, we see that time is of the essence in today’s business world. Technical advancements have been phenomenal, with the speed of data and information growing exponentially. Large bureaucracies and inefficient operations will no longer be able to compete effectively.
STEM demands modernization and a fresh way of thinking. Innovation and ingenuity, along with creativity, are key success factors in ensuring organizations evolve and adapt to the ever-changing world around us. Diversity of thought will create endless possibilities and alternatives, especially for those who have STEM knowledge and expertise.
I believe in the power of women to lead this paradigm shift.
Barriers to Closing the STEM Gender Gap
Traditional companies (i.e. ones that have been around for a number of years) may be stuck in past hiring practices, which are biased against diversity. There will be a natural weighting of more male applicants and hiring managers, given the existing gender bias. Unless there is a focused commitment to recognize the value of gender diversity in STEM fields, this barrier will continue to exist.
There are so many new opportunities in areas such as fintech, research and development, business analytics, and other new ventures that will need the best and brightest to succeed. I firmly believe that women will play central roles in the success of these organizations, and will be integral to their future growth.
Moving STEM Women Forward
Having role models and seeing the success that women have had in these fields can be inspirational for our next generation of leaders. We need to encourage and inspire young women to break down the stereotypical ideology that STEM fields are only for the guys.
Another path to building interest in STEM is through educational sponsorships, such as scholarships, competitions focused on innovation, and technology initiatives geared specifically toward girls and young women. Building confidence with a “can do” and “will do” mentality will create momentum and enthusiasm.
Organizations must also make commitments to progressive hiring practices focused on diversity—gender and ethnicity. However, it can’t stop there. Organizations also need to foster a corporate culture and internal dynamics that support diversity.
I am fortunate to be part of an organization that conducts training on unconscious bias and respect in the workplace. Programs like these highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion to the overall success of the business. A diverse workplace drives culture, creativity, productivity, and innovation.