5 Ways to Help Promote Women in STEM

As a female engineer, I feel a personal responsibility to help create a supportive environment for other women to excel in.  It frustrates me that women hold about half of the jobs in the US, but less than a quarter in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  So what can we do to improve this?

  1. Praise them for their efforts. Studies show that just by telling girls their intelligence can expand, they do better on math tests, and in turn are more inclined to want to study it. So we should be praising children for their efforts, and never putting down failures and mistakes. We should instead be explaining that this is a natural part of the learning process. I truly believe that creating a supportive environment is crucial,
  2. Instill confidence in girls. Even if girls and boys have comparable achievements, girls assess themselves lower. Therefore, we need to instill confidence in women. Competence isn’t enough. We need to teach women that it is okay to take risks, and possibly fail. Perseverance is essential to confidence building. Being confident is about doing – turning thought in to action. And then confidence can be self-perpetuating. We touched upon the fact that the mind is a muscle that you can rework through training.
  3. Work to reform the educational system. Research has shown that small improvements by science, technology, engineering and mathematics departments can lead to big gains in female recruitment. That’s why it is so important to make science more approachable, and provide real world analogies and give real problems to solve, not just theoretical ones. We need to make the content fun, relevant, and engaging.
  4. Get women engaged when they are young, and support them through their learning and continue throughout their careers. Parents, teachers, and mentors form crucial relationships that can help nurture young girls and encourage careers in these fields. Companies need to offer mentorships, internships, on-the-job shadowing, and sponsorships to help support engaged women.
  5. Showcase like-minded professionals throughout the corporate ladder as positive role models, not just top-notch scientists and successful CEOs. We need to show that technology fields are tangible and within their grasp, and not just filled with the geeky archetypes they believe.

My hope is for a world where both men and women alike succeed, creating a better, richer, more enjoyable experience for all.

To read more tips on promoting girls in STEM, check out my post on Good Housekeeping.