Where Are The Women: How Far Does STEM Reach Before It Hits the Glass Ceiling?

Seems like a redundant headline, one that you have certainly heard before.  Annoying and infuriating, on multiple levels, that it keeps popping up, right…? However, Donna Strickland, has been in the news as of late.  Who? What? Why? Donna Strickland, physicist, was just awarded a Nobel Prize. She is only the 3rd woman to receive a Nobel Prize in physics (following Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963).

Currently, Strickland’s name, or rather the lack of familiarity with it, is a subject of discussion more so than her achievement and intelligence. It is 2018 and she did not have a Wikipedia page. Attempts were made to submit one for her, but denied, as Wikipedia did not deem her notable enough prior to becoming a Nobel Laureate. Let’s pause for a moment and reflect just who you have researched and read about on Wikipedia…. Exactly.

STEM was introduced in 2001, which means that children and adolescents who were part of its inception  are now either a part of the workforce or academia. Once again, I ask, “where are the women?”. We have witnessed sharp educational shifts with Common Core curriculum and STEM initiatives, but the percentages of women in these fields do not align with the priority these skills and studies are given in our education system. The numbers vary depending upon position, country, and sector, but women account for approximately 20% of the workforce in computer science and technology.

Not surprisingly, that number drops once we hone in on positions of authority like CEO, CIO, or even managers. At UTG, we advocate for following your passion, sharpening your skills, and breaking out of the box to continually evolve as a well-rounded individual. Educational access and organization varies, however, something larger is amiss and it is the social constructs and confines that have built academia and the workforce.

This blog coincides with International Day of the Girl and while strides for girls and women, both professionally and personally, have certainly been made since Marie Curie earned her Nobel Prize in 1903, we have clearly not come far enough. We cannot continue to move at a snail’s pace or to rely on someone else to step in and change the system. We know that girls demonstrate excitement in STEM and immense aptitude for it, but are often not given the same credibility and invested interest as their male counterparts.

In order to thrive, any interest or profession needs to be supported and people want to feel engaged. Be it children or the employee sitting before us, we need to be able to look them in the eyes, see them for their current experience and future potential, and pull them up. This perpetual cycle of male-dominated STEM roles does not shift unless those in charge commit daily to change and advance the cogs within their system.

More diverse perspectives and experiences certainly transform even the most successful company into a more cutting-edge organization with a wider breadth. Women are more than qualified to code, lead as hiring or project managers, safeguard infrastructure as a cybersecurity specialist, design data as a network architect, or cultivate a widely diverse and exceptionally qualified team as a CEO.

Knowledge and development do not begin and end with job descriptions and resumes, nor do they just simply evolve, whether it’s in a cubicle or the most appealing and original open-spaced setting. A company is really only as solid and groundbreaking as the team of people it is built upon (from the very top to those grinding away in front of their laptops or hustling to meetings).

Who is on your team? What are your expectations for each person and role? Is there equity in compensation, professional development, and advancement? Mentorship, hands-on experience, clear expectations from colleagues and superiors, and simply being able to express one’s voice without credibility unjustly being taken away, all contribute to an environment in which more women will be hired for STEM roles.

Due to the absence of women in this field, the criteria above is often viewed as “extra” and unfairly put on the shoulders of the limited women already in these positions, which in turn continues to hinder the number of women pursuing or being sought out in these fields. What must we do? Promote women. Work harder and more diligently to find women who are qualified for these roles. They exist, but we must commit to seeking them out in an arena that is otherwise monopolized.

It is part of our daily mission at UTG to help further this and increase the number of women working in technology and senior positions. Qualified, engaged, ingenious professionals are not relegated to one gender. In a field that is saturated with men, we take the extra steps to always seek out a diverse pool of candidates to interview, as we know an exceptional employee is more than a polished resume or LinkedIn profile.

UTG knows that dynamic professionals with a unique prowess abound in technology and we are proud to do our due diligence to search for and match them with our innovative and resourceful clients. At UTG we know from decades of experience in recruitment, as well as within our own office, that women, and a diverse team in general, only enhance a company’s prosperity and relevance. UTG’s utmost goal is to always deliver quality, but it is our passion to contribute to the rise in diversity in technology through empowering women in positions of growth and power.

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