WHY WE NEED MORE WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP ROLES IN STEM
Certain fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics have always been male dominated. Even though we have more women going into these fields as time goes by, there is still a significant shortage of women, especially in leadership roles. For instance, in the United States, women are said to make up 48 percent of the workforce in the tech field but hold only about 18 percent of the leadership roles in top tech companies.
WHY THERE ARE LESS WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP ROLES IN STEM
- CULTURAL FACTORS: Cultural factors play a huge role in the participation of women in the STEM field. In many cultures, they are believed to be men only roles and too much or too stressful for women and that pushes a lot of young girls away from it. The views of a society determines the level of the participation. In closer communities or more traditional settings, women are only encouraged to go for more ‘girl-like’ fields and men are allowed to dominate STEM fields.
- CONFIDENCE GAP: Many women are less likely to put themselves out there and shoot their shot. Due to our upbringing and social factors, men tend to be more vocal and open with their wants and desires and women are more likely to sell themselves short. Cultural factors and lack of adequate support also contributes to this.
- GENDER PERCEPTIONS: Some people hold the belief that men naturally make better leaders than women and that belief shapes how people choose their leaders. Beliefs like these are one of the leading causes why people feel more comfortable to choose male leaders and also because some women internalize these beliefs, it makes it difficult for them to seek out these roles
- LACK OF SUPPORTIVE STRUCTURES: Women are less likely to get structures set up to support them in these fields. According to Heather Metcalf “Lack of support structures for women that create opportunities for them to advance and gain the recognition they need to be considered for advancement” is keeping women from advancing into leadership roles in STEM.
THE NEED FOR WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP ROLES IN STEM
- THERE IS A NEED FOR MENTORSHIP: A lot of young girls aspire to go into these fields and are in need of guidance and mentorship from women with more experience in the field. This is why organizations like WISL focuses on bringing these two categories of women together to facilities a better future for young girls in these fields.
- CREATING SUPPORTIVE STRUCTURES FOR YOUNGER WOMEN: The more women there are at the top, the more women centric structures we get. Women leaders are more likely to include and build better structures that will consider other women.
- THE RIPPLE EFFECT: Generally, people feel more encouraged and inspired to go into things when they see other people doing the same. More women at the top will inspire young girls to dream and hope to also go there. Having more women in leadership roles will definitely be a big step in encouraging young girls to follow their passions and go into STEM leadership.
HOW TO BE A GOOD LEADER/MENTOR FOR YOUNG GIRLS
- Have something of interest that will attract people willing to learn and invest.
- Be deliberate about who your audience is.
- Understand that networking is a necessity and you need it to go far.
- Identify your vision and explore avenues that will help you actualize it.
- Keep your ideas simple and easy to digest
- Focus on a specific group of people.
- Create programs of value that target young girls.
- Become what other women need and what younger girls can benefit from.
- Understand that STEM is changing and move with it.
HOW WISL CAN HELP
As an organization that focuses on empowering women in business and leadership, WISL is redefining the way women in these fields collaborate to drive innovation and business growth. WISL aims to create a safe place for women in top and mid leadership roles to connect with young girls aspiring to join the STEM space so they can become the resource these girls need to grow in this field. It also provides a platform to build your network and connect with other women in STEM leadership providing the much needed sisterhood platform to connect and network with like minded women.