About a month ago Sheryl Sandberg posted on Quora ask how to get more women into technology. There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about increasing the numbers of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) with some fantastic initiatives like Lady Geek, STEMettes and Goldie Blox.
This discussion seemed to come to a head with the release of a certain Goldie Blox advert, which is pretty awesome if you haven’t seen it. So I thought I would attempt to answer Sheryl’s original suggestion:
I think it is about explaining how the STEM subjects make a difference in our world. As scientists and engineers we can be very bad at communicating what we do in our roles and why our roles are inspiring. The reason I find my career fulfilling is the fact that what I do can solve problems and potentially improve peoples lives. Personally I think this could be fulfilling for other women too, if we can highlight this. To this end I have signed up to become a Stemnet ambassador and for the Inspiring the Future campaign.
On my recent trip to India I saw a range of engineering and technology solutions helping improve rural lives. From the water pump on which villagers relied on to the cheap mobile phones than enabled people to run there businesses at a micro scale – both of these involved all the STEM subjects.
In the past when I have approached this subject I have been challenged as to why we need more women in STEM so I thought I would clarify that as well. The reason I think we should have more women in these subjects in my humble (personal) opinion are:
- Firstly, we can bring another perspective to the table and perhaps view problems in a different manner.
- Secondly, these fields are increasingly important in our lives and I think women should be part of forming technologies.
- And let’s be honest there is also the factor of the potential economic gains of these fields to consider as well.
Even once they are qualified professionals, women are leaving the engineering professions at a great rate than men and there is more that can be done to retain them within the profession. Initiatives like the coaching Sagent Recruitment offer are definitely part of the mix. There is still a long way to go in reducing poverty worldwide but these examples highlight one area where the STEM subjects can make a tangible difference to people. There are several more examples and plenty more problems ripe for solutions, I just hope there will be more women on the teams that help solve them.