Solving the Equation: How Can We Encourage More Women to Pursue STEM Careers?
Gender equality is the key to achieving our full potential in the fields of science and technology, so there are calls for more to be done to increase female representation in STEM industries.
STEM is a common term in science fields, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM industries are considered to be critical for business and world progression, yet these industries are male-dominated and lacking in female representation. According to AAUW, in these traditionally male-dominated fields, girls and women are systematically tracked away from science and math throughout their education, resulting in fewer opportunities to go into these fields as adults.
Tackling the shortage
Offer a clear career progression
To address this talent shortage, businesses play a crucial role in recruiting, retaining and progressing female staff. BCG’s study shows that women in tech often have lower job satisfaction because they face many difficult challenges in accessing core technical roles, while also getting less training and development. This challenge urges businesses to be transparent throughout career progression, from publishing job adverts to setting out a clear path for female staff to reach their full potential. This will increase career opportunities in STEM for women and will help to create a more gender balanced industry.
Champion role models
Another crucial aspect of this conversation is increasing the visibility of female role models within the field. Research conducted by Microsoft has found that girls are far more likely to feel empowered and start seeking out STEM careers when they see popular women in STEM professions. This solution will bring an even greater impact when we start to implement it in an early stage. Inviting female professionals to school to share their stories, show their success and talk about how rewarding STEM careers can be for women will have a significant impact. Additionally, within a business environment, highlighting successful women holding senior positions in the boardroom will also inspire more female staff to follow their example.
Speaking about women entering the STEM industry on the latest episode of Commerce Talk with SmartOSC, Akanksha Rastogi, Head of Data and Insights at Foodpanda Thailand also mentioned the importance of successful role models, “We’ve started to see a lot more force in terms of women starting to achieve great heights and literally proving their mettle, inspiring so many others behind them. And it’s a topic that we have started talking about in intellectual spaces … And now organizations recognize that. There are programs and scholarships that are helping women break out from these barriers and sort of nurturing talent, and increasingly you see this across the space.”
Hear more about Akanksha’s thoughts on the gender gap in tech in our CommerceTalk podcast.
Encourage female mentorship
Research shows that women in STEM often experience feelings of isolation, face hostile male-dominated work environments, and lack of effective sponsors. These factors cause them to leave the industry. Simply hiring women into STEM jobs is not enough; women need to feel heard, supported, and championed. It’s highly important for businesses to provide mentoring opportunities for female staff to connect with other successful women in their organizations and industry.
While more needs to be done to make root-level changes, getting started and taking small steps can lead to big change.Not only countless successful women in STEM, but special female role models who are changing the world will spread out great inspiration and motivation for young girls to pursue their dreams. More and more businesses are now highly aware of the need to attract a more diverse pool of talent for their development, and already have multiple solutions in place. It’s not just a single business or a region, but it’s time for the whole world to incubate more females joining this future-forward STEM journey.