Only one in five female millennials has a career in the STEM fields. According to a report by the Population Reference Bureau, this concerning pattern is connected to the fact that young women no longer experience a boost their well-being when they study the sciences.
The alarming trends do not stop there.
Despite the increasing number of women taking STEM courses, women still represent a significantly low percentage of all employees in STEM fields. Research from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics found that of all researchers around the world, only 30% are women. Another study by Venture Capital for Africa suggests that only 9% of startups have female leaders.
Despite the increasing awareness of gender disparities in the workplace, women in STEM fields still face gender discrimination. Hiring practices to salaries to everything in between are stacked against them.
So how do we empower women in STEM fields? How do we allow them to thrive?
1. Encourage young women to pursue STEM courses.
What will encourage more young women to enter STEM fields? Involving female students in school projects that will spark their interest in math and science. We should encourage women to look past their fears of male-dominated fields when they are still little girls. Mentoring girls who are interested in STEM and exposing them to senior leadership in STEM companies will help them become strong leaders in the STEM fields when they begin their careers.
2. Hire women for managerial/leadership roles in STEM companies.
Promoting gender diversity from the top down is one of the best ways to encourage more women to enter STEM fields and strengthen those who are already in the industry. Women comprise only 12% of executives at Fortune 100 companies. Including women in upper management positions allows companies to give highly capable females the impression that they are important assets. Creating diversity in an organization can also drive productivity, innovation, product manufacturing, decision-making, and higher employee retention and satisfaction, according to research. It is important to make conscious efforts to ensure that women in every startup are well-represented. After all, many women in STEM fields are highly qualified for leadership positions.
3. Give women in STEM the benefits that they deserve.
One good thing is to consider small financing options when tech women (especially working moms) fall short in funds. Compensation is a serious concern and should be addressed by organizations. Apart from tacking this disparity, another way to empower women in these fields is to provide them with benefits and incentives that will keep them motivated at work. One is by organizing company-sponsored training programs to further improve their knowledge and skills. Companies can also provide training seminars and mentoring sessions where women in your workplace can learn financial skills.
4. Allow women in the STEM fields to practice work-life balance.
Online platforms that feature video conferencing and instant messaging tools enable women in STEM to connect and provide significant contributions to their companies. When employers promote work-life balance, female employees will be able to focus on their work without needing to juggle personal responsibilities.
5. Challenge gender stereotypes in STEM.
Sadly, many organizations still have outdated ideas about how women and men should behave in the workplace. For example, an assertive woman’s superiors may view her as “bossy.” STEM companies may also view women as less fit for STEM roles. It is important for every startup to acknowledge and challenge the gender stereotyping in their organizations. STEM organizations should promote a culture that hires men and women based on their qualifications and roles, not their genders. Whenever possible, company policies should address gender stereotyping as well.
In a world in which many people believe science and technology seems more suitable to men, we should make a conscious effort to raise awareness about gender bias, especially in schools and universities. If we eliminate gender bias at its roots, we can encourage women to take STEM courses and pursue leadership roles careers in the field.