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How do we amplify young women's presence in STEM?




As we continue celebrating Women’s Month a question that comes to my mind is why does STEM continue being a man’s world? I grew up in a world where I saw my mother taking and making decisions. I saw her travelling the world and rubbing shoulders with many. Reflecting, I recall my mother telling us that although mathematics was her strongest subject, she was compelled by her high school's administration to major in biology, a decision that significantly altered her career path. For more details on her experience in STEM, you can read her story here.

 

Why young women in STEM?

Amplifying young women's presence in STEM matters for several key reasons. First, women bring innovative and diverse approaches to problem-solving in STEM, leading to more creative outcomes. Second, an increase in women in these fields provides vital role models for aspiring young girls, creating a positive cycle of inspiration and empowerment. Third, their participation directly confronts and helps to dismantle the prevailing biases and stereotypes, making STEM more accessible to all. Fourth, with many global challenges requiring STEM solutions, a diverse workforce ensures these solutions are comprehensive and inclusive. Lastly, promoting equity in STEM is not only a matter of fairness but also enables women to access the benefits of STEM careers, such as higher salaries and job stability, thereby enhancing their economic independence and security.

 

How do we bridge the gap in STEM fields?

The question then arises: how do we bridge this gap and encourage more young women into STEM? Bridging the gap involves creating supportive environments from classrooms to boardrooms. Initiatives should start with early education, incorporating STEM exposure through engaging programs and activities that challenge stereotypes. Mentorship plays a crucial role, offering guidance, support, and visibility of women in STEM fields. Workplaces must cultivate inclusivity, providing equitable opportunities for growth, leadership roles, and addressing wage gaps. By fostering a culture that values diversity and inclusion, we can make significant strides toward closing the gender gap in STEM.

 

Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) by those looking to support and get involved:

 

How do I get started?

Getting started in tech and crypto requires foundational knowledge in STEM subjects. Begin by focusing on your education in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Participate in related extracurricular activities, seek out internships, and stay curious about the latest developments in the field you are interested in. Seek out educational resources, online courses, and workshops designed to build your skills from the ground up.

 

What subjects should I study to get into STEM? 

Mathematics and science are foundational subjects for STEM careers. Depending on your area of interest and level of study, you might also study computer science, biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering.

 

Are there any resources for women interested in STEM? 

Yes, there are numerous organizations and programs worldwide dedicated to supporting women in STEM fields. These organizations aim to encourage and empower women to pursue and excel in STEM careers through various initiatives such as scholarships, mentorship programs, networking events, and professional development opportunities. Some notable organizations and programs include:

 

Women in STEM (WiSTEM): Empowers and encourages high school girls to be part of the movement to increase female representation in STEM. It provides resources, networks, and opportunities to help women thrive in these fields. Learn more.  

 

Million Women Mentors: Aiming to encourage girls and women to pursue STEM careers, this organization works on a national and international level to close the gender gap in STEM. It collaborates with businesses, local leaders, and educational institutions to create more opportunities and resources for women in STEM. Learn more.

 

Society of Women Engineers (SWE): SWE is a global organization focused on promoting women's full participation and success in engineering and technology. It offers a wide range of resources, including scholarships, conferences, and community outreach programs. Learn more.

 

Association for Women in Science (AWIS):  AWIS is a global network that advocates for the interests of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It offers a range of resources, including leadership development, networking opportunities, and scholarships. Learn more.

 

Black Girls Code: This organization focuses on providing technology education for African-American girls, offering workshops and programs in web design, game design, app development, and robotics. It aims to train the next generation of Black women in computer science and offers career workshops, leadership summits, and tech expos to its alumni. Learn more.

 

Girls Who Code: Founded to close the gender gap in technology, Girls Who Code offers educational programs for middle and high school girls in programming, web design, and robotics. The organization has a strong presence across the U.S., Canada, India, and the UK, providing after-school clubs led by STEM professionals and a summer immersion program for high school girls to learn coding. Learn more

 

Athena: As a global women's advocacy organization, Athena focuses on advancing women in STEM through leadership development, mentoring, and advocacy. Their mission is to transform scientists and technologists into corporate leaders, with an aim to advance one million women in STEM by 2030. Learn more.  

 

AnitaB.org: Named after computing pioneer Anita Borg, AnitaB.org is dedicated to the advancement of women in computing. It organizes the Grace Hopper Celebration, the world's largest gathering of women technologists, and offers various resources and community programs. Learn more.

 

What are some challenges women face in STEM, and how can they be addressed? 

Women in STEM encounter numerous challenges, including a significant lack of representation and unconscious bias, which can lead to feelings of isolation and hinder career progression. These issues are compounded by gender stereotypes that deter women from pursuing or advancing in these fields. To combat these challenges, implementing mentorship programs that provide guidance, support, and advocacy for women is crucial. Additionally, establishing women-led networks and organizations can foster a sense of community and belonging, while also advocating for diversity and inclusion in STEM industries. These initiatives can help create more equitable opportunities and break down the barriers women face, promoting a more inclusive and diverse scientific community.

 

How can I find a mentor in the STEM space? 

To find a mentor in the STEM space, consider exploring mentorship programs offered by professional organizations within your specific field. These programs are designed to connect emerging talents with experienced professionals. Additionally, leveraging platforms such as LinkedIn allows you to directly engage with potential mentors by commenting on their posts or sending thoughtful messages expressing your interest in learning from their experiences. Joining online communities and forums dedicated to your STEM area can also provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and potential mentors. Remember, it is important to be proactive and clear about what you are seeking in a mentorship relationship to ensure a good match.

 

Where do I get info from?

To gather information, explore a wide range of platforms. Online forums and tech blogs are rich sources for the latest trends, tools, and opportunities in technology and the crypto space. Educational websites offer structured learning paths and in-depth knowledge on specific topics. Social media groups and communities on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can also provide valuable insights and networking opportunities with professionals and enthusiasts in your field of interest. Engaging with these resources will keep you informed and connected in the rapidly evolving tech landscape.

 

Which community should I join?

Community support is vital for budding women tech enthusiasts. Seek out communities and networks dedicated to women in STEM. Such groups provide mentorship, resources, and a supportive environment for sharing experiences and challenges. Keep in mind that pathways into STEM are varied, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Stay informed, be proactive, and find communities that nurture your growth and align with your interests.

 

Happy Women's Month to all the young tech enthusiasts!

 

About the Author

Luc Muhizi is a Computer Programmer who guides beginners and experts through this evolving sector. He is also the CTO at HAZEYouth, a nonprofit that champions youth empowerment, encourages creative thinking, and lifelong learning to unlock their potential.

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1 Comment


Guest
Mar 18

This is a great article about a persistent issue. Why do women continue being underrepresented in STEM?

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