Importance of Women in STEM
This month is Women’s History Month. The month where we take a step back and reflect on women globally, women who are underrepresented on all strides of leadership related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). So, let us come together to celebrate their year round strides, accomplishments and decisions they make everyday which impact the financial, social and political landscapes world over.
Gender equality at the workplace has come a far way but has miles to go. Historically, men in STEM have outnumbered women but over the years, with more representation and awareness created around those statistics, STEM women have slowly paved their way through and we hope they match the number of men soon ushering in a new era of equality.
STEM is a booming field and the number of women working for it needs to scale with it. Women bring diverse ideas and different perspectives to enrich and expand knowledge and science in all its facets. They need to be given equal opportunities to participate and engage in activities and decisions that will shape their future.
However, reinforced negative stereotypes and the stigma embedded in our culture and society inhibit women from chasing their STEM dreams because historically, in comparison to men, women’s academic pursuits and intellectual freedom have been, if not completely consistently suppressed.
To address this issue and to build a stronger and brighter future, STEM industries need to encourage and nurture the diversity women have to offer and promote their participation.
The future of women in STEM
To bridge the gap of gender equality and improve the future of women in STEM, it will take a collective effort from teachers, industry leaders and individuals to assess ways in which we can further the fight for STEM women. We need to put in place robust programs such as Implicit Bias training and plans in place that encourage and support women and eliminate systematic barriers to their advancement.
Encouraging a balanced and diverse committee whether it is selecting speakers for a conference, choosing mentors who can provide career guidance, or even evaluating candidates for various positions needs to have female participants so they feel connected.
Promoting a healthy work life balance is so essential more so because as women, we tend to shoulder more caregiving responsibilities than men. Embracing flexible or remote work setups, providing childcare at work or policies that will ease women into their work setup and redefine the culture in STEM are ways in which companies can help women. Slowly as women scientists redefine their roles in their workplace and become role models, young girls will be able to envision themselves in these roles as future leaders in the field of technology.
As we stand on the brink of an Industrial Revolution, the boundaries between the physical and virtual world are blurring with the advent of AI, Robotics, quantum computing and other technologies whose future and scope is unparalleled. Our lives will be altered in ethereal ways and we must stand on the forefront to embrace these changes. Without women, we will lack the dimension, the scope and the spirit to enclasp these changes. Which is why we need to support girls in STEM because every girl child deserves the opportunity to pursue her dreams, aspirations and flourish in them.