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Everyone has a role to play to mend the Gender Gap in STEM
Organisations in today’s society need innovation, diversity of thinking and sustainable results to thrive. Anyone who is leading a team in an organisation today that doubts this may simply not be in business within the next 5-7 years. It is fair to say men still dominate the numbers in all four STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) worldwide. But how can any organisation achieve the aforementioned results while more than two thirds of the population does not actively participate in these fields? The UNESCO Institute for Statistics confirms that only a poor 30% of researchers in the world are women, 11% percent of the engineering workforce is female and the UK has some of the worst figures in Europe. The most concerning data comes from computer sciences, a rapidly growing industry, since the number of women in computing degrees appears to be falling.
This needs the attention of everyone
If we are to thrive and find solutions to global challenges, we need all hands on deck. That includes female scientists, engineers, tech experts and women in mathematics to directly contribute to innovation.
Most men want to be part of the solution – I have experienced this over my 17 years as Leadership coach in over 80 countries. The organisations that are growing are those where men champion their female colleagues and make space for more women to enter, but also to lead.
Here are some actionable strategies men in STEM can implement to be a part of the solution to the gender gap:
- Make concrete efforts to gather data Taking stock of the current numbers can show an x-ray of the current situation in each department of an organisation, only then will they know how many women are in their pipeline. Do not shy away from this, you need to face up to this starting point.
- It is everyone’s role Managers should not only be responsible for overseeing revenue and profit growth, but also for promoting balance and diversity. This should involving regular metrics undertaken by not just the Diversity Officer and their team, but managers of each department.
- Effective mentoring programs Recently, many men have reported feeling uncomfortable mentoring women, resulting in less women being mentored and receiving expert guidance. Organisations should reinforce the importance of these programs and design them in a professional way that serves both. Both men and women can be great mentors for women in STEM.
- Stamp out biases Implement and take part in continuous unconscious bias training, empathy and true inclusion programs. These should be widely available but leaders especially need to model these behaviors and walk the talk.
- Call out bias when it takes place Men can stop bias from growing by calling it out in a non-confrontational way in the workplace. This could be during meetings, hiring processes or promotions and rewards.
- Motivate girls and young women Parents have a great impact on girls and young women’s lives. By recognising and encouraging a girls’ abilities in or passion for mathematics and analytical thinking, you can give them the self-confidence they need to pursue a career in STEM.
- Something for executive board members Make sure metrics include a map of all possible opportunities at every level. From this, there should be a true commitment and increased accountability to have an equal numbers of candidates from all genders as much as possible and implement non-biased promotion processes.
Women are more than capable and bring valuable contribution to these fields. They belong in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and many are desperately wanting to be involved. Society and organisations have a duty to do everything in their power to provide them with a space and help them thrive. If we lessen the gender gap the world will be undoubtedly a better and more sustainable place for all.
Gabriela Mueller Mendoza is the author of ‘How To Be A Smart Woman In STEM’ which seeks to empower all women in STEM with the tools for success.