What is STEM?
STEM is a term initiated by the National Science Foundation, specifically coined together by Dr. Ramaley when she was assistant director of the education and human resources directorate from 2001 to 2004. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. By learning about STEM, it creates logical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators who are critical factors in allowing our world to grow. In addition to field-specific technical skills, these jobs require soft skills, including: Advanced science, technology, engineering or math knowledge.
Why is there a gender gap in STEM?
There are a number of reasons why there is a gender gap in STEM, but one repeating factor is stereotypes. Stem fields are mostly viewed as masculine, and it’s been proven that young girl’s maths abilities are usually underestimated so by the time they get to secondary school, they feel less confident in those subjects and are pushed more towards subjects like creative writing. Because of this, fewer women study and work in STEM, which creates more male-dominated cultures. One of the highest-earning STEM occupations, such as computer science and engineering, have the lowest percentages of women workers.
How can we encourage young women to get into STEM?
There are a number of ways we can encourage women to get into STEM. By exposing them at a young age and encouraging them in a positive way and then maintaining that exposure through primary and secondary school. Another way is introducing them to female role models who they can look up to, and who inspire and motivate them to pursue their dreams. Creating networking events and hosting science workshops where young women don’t feel like they are overlooked is also a good idea.
As an employer, what can you do to promote women in STEM?
As an employer we can make sure that we create a work culture that makes women feel comfortable and equal to men in the office. Understanding that women sometimes have different interests when applying for roles such as the company culture and flexibility and making sure that job adverts we put out don’t discourage women from applying by being unintentionally biased towards men. Research suggests that women are less likely than men to apply for a role if they are not completely confident in their suitability. Promoting equal pay and offering family-friendly benefits is also something which will make women more interested.
Diversity & Inclusion are the latest buzzwords everyone is throwing about, but what do they mean to you…
The demand for female talent within STEM is increasing rapidly, alongside a real push for diversity and inclusion across all industires, but having a conversation around this can sometimes prove difficult as people push it aside as they know the controversy it can engender.
At Connecting Experts, we have started a podcast called STEMsational where we will be having open and honest conversations with female professionals in a variety of industries about how they got into their STEM fields, their careers, their thoughts on diversity and inclusion, and honest advice for women looking to break into or already working in STEM.
With this podcast we aim to get the ball rolling about having conversations around this topic and also inspire young women looking to get into STEM careers.