It’s no secret that women who work in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) on average face greater obstacles than their male peers. Not only are women underrepresented in these fields, they are also frequently paid less, sidelined to junior positions, and are more likely than their male partners to sacrifice their careers after having children. This is a problem that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, women in male-dominated workplaces often lack mentorship due to there being far fewer women in leadership positions, which can discourage them from advancement. Within the masculine culture found in many STEM organizations, women can often feel like outsiders, while at the same time dealing with implicit gender bias from managers who may underestimate their abilities.
As a result, some women in STEM feel discouraged, and may even quit their careers. However, research shows that female leaders are an important part of the workplace. When organizations do the extra work of supporting their career growth, they boost their bottom line. According to a recent report from McKinsey, businesses in the top quartile for gender diversity within executive teams were 25% more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than those in the fourth quartile.
How Tech Organizations Can Nurture the Next Generation of Women Leaders
Technology companies can help their female professionals become leaders by providing meaningful mentorship programs and fairer workplace policies. These should:
- Encourage leadership qualities that are traditionally seen as feminine (these can include awareness of one’s limitations, leading through inspiration, putting others ahead of oneself, empathy, elevating others, and being humble).
- Help women achieve a greater balance between work and family (for example, allowing parents more time at home, including paternal leave for fathers and flexible work-from-home policies so that both men and women can spend equal time with children).
- Give women the confidence to overcome psychological barriers that may obstruct career growth (for example, programs that help increase confidence in taking risks and saying “no” to projects that won’t result in career growth).
- Help both women and men recognize unconscious gender bias and stereotypes that often hinder women in their careers.
Kathryn Leonhardt, Principal Consultant, International Quality & Patient Safety, adds that organizations can further support their female employees by helping them seek “out mentors and sponsors, learning the cultural and organizational ‘language’ that is important to leadership and cultivating flexibility and resilience,” according to Forbes.
Nominate a Female “STEM Visionary” for Forbes’ “50 over 50”
Do you know a woman over the age of 50 who has forged a pathway in STEM? Forbes Magazine has announced a special “50 over 50” feature. It will celebrate women who have achieved significant success beyond middle age. Selected nominees will be highlighted in a special June 2021 edition of Forbes Magazine titled “Inclusive Capitalism.” They will also be featured on KnowYourValue.com.
Nominations are open to women in the U.S. born on or before 31 December 1970. Among the list of desired candidates includes, but is not limited to, “STEM visionaries.”
According to Forbes: “Candidates should reflect the full range of career and passion project paths, including entrepreneurs and business owners; nonprofit and philanthropy leaders; public servants, policymakers and social advocates; C-Suite executives; VCs, angels and financiers; STEM visionaries; and arts and culture creators and producers.”
The nomination deadline is 28 February 2021. See the full nomination guidelines.
Create Female STEM Leaders
IEEE has partnered with Rutgers Business School to offer the IEEE | Rutgers Online Mini-MBA for Engineers. Designed specifically for groups of ten or more within an organization, this program operates entirely online. It features topics including business strategy, managing product development, finance, negotiation, managing human capital, intellectual property strategy, and transformational agility.
Participants will learn how to make organizational decisions with both technical and operational considerations. After developing an understanding of how different functional groups interact to achieve overall goals, they will learn to apply their newly developed business skills to better align their technical capabilities with business strategy.
The program offers the option of a customized capstone project, completely aligned to the needs of your organization. As part of the project, you’ll receive feedback from program professors who have worked as engineering leaders themselves.
To learn more about the IEEE | Rutgers Online Mini-MBA for Engineers for your organization, contact an IEEE Account Manager today.
Paulise, Luciana. (7 December 2020). How Networking Can Help Women In STEM Thrive In The Covid-19 Crisis. Forbes.
Gallop, Cindy and Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. (1 April 2020). 7 Leadership Lessons Men Can Learn from Women. Harvard Business Review.