Women in STEM

Inspiring and nurturing young talent is one important way to encourage more women into the STEM industry, however it’s not the only solution.

There is increasing effort going into educating girls about STEM programmes early on in their education and they are being given the support they need to pursue it as a career.  This is opening up opportunities in STEM to a whole new generation of young women however it doesn’t mean that these opportunities are not necessarily open to women later in their careers.

A great example of this is data and analytics which are just two of the growing engineering fields which many organisations rely on these days. If a female employee working in a different department is exposed to the nature of the role and is interested in retraining then it makes sense for her and for her company to encourage her to do so. She reinvents her career and passion for work and the organisation retains talent.

The same goes for women who are looking to make a career change or get back into work after a career break. Supporting women mid-career to get into the STEM sector provides a clear opportunity to bring about positive change in the industry and companies can help make this change by taking proactive steps.

Corporate Culture

Many women don’t know what they want to do when they are studying or they go down a different route, have children at a younger age, are balancing life issues and aren’t aware of the opportunities open to them in the STEM sector. Women should have the chance to transfer their skillsets and understand what opportunities are out there. This is why companies shouldn’t dismiss candidates or trainees from different backgrounds who may not have the relevant experience but do have the right attitude and transferrable skills.

Offer development opportunities

Women who are passionate about STEM should be encouraged to follow their instincts and be supported with relevant training. Offering development programmes for women can show potential candidates that their career development will be taken seriously and their employer is committed to helping them grow. Women who consider entering a male dominated sector can struggle with issues that may not seem apparent, such as feeling they don’t fit in, or not getting the same level of support that their male colleagues may get and feeling like they are an imposter so focus must be placed on structured development.

Focus on mentoring

There are many programmes for younger women but programmes for mid-career women are few and far between so it’s great to see groups such as DELTAS (Diversity & Excellence in Legal Technology And Security) and RISE Mentoring growing and encouraging mid-career women on their journeys. As StarLeaf is a DELTAS sponsor, I have experienced the support they provide to women first-hand. More companies in the STEM sector need to get involved in groups which bring women from various backgrounds with different skillsets together.

Work/life dynamics

As they grow older women often end up having to balance the pressures of work and family so having flexible working policies in place, such as working from home, compressed working hours, job sharing etc., all mean that they can find their ideal balance in life and feel empowered to learn new skills and grow within their organisation. Apart from attracting mid-career female employees, this can also help STEM companies retain talent and avoid the ‘trapdoor’, the point at which many female professionals seem to disappear.

Get feedback

Women later on in life are more likely to be looking for roles which reflect their values and align with their personal beliefs so it’s important to truly understand what your organisation stands for. Start with assessing how the women on your team feel about the issues women in the STEM industry face and you’ll be making big progress towards your goal to recruit more women.

About the author

Ashleigh Auld has worked in B2B tech marketing over the last seven years working both in-house and agency side. Ashleigh now supports the StarLeaf team working on their partner network and global channel marketing strategy.

Constantly challenging conventional thinking and with a love for technology, Ashleigh is putting strategies into place to make StarLeaf a company which champions diversity and equality. – https://www.starleaf.com/