Opinion by Thought Leaders
Read the latest opinions from tech & business pros across the globe.

Why STEM is Important for Every Girl

 

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. This core set of so-called "21st-century skills" form the tools students will need to have if they want to succeed in the workplace of the future. In this ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it's more critical than ever that the youth of our country are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems of all kinds, make sense of information, know how to gather and evaluate evidence, and be able to use that evidence to make critical decisions.   STEM ensures a nation where our future leaders, neighbors, and workers know how to understand and solve some of the most complex challenges of today and tomorrow, as they continue to meet the demands of a dynamic and evolving workforce. The U. S. Department of Commerce states that STEM occupations are growing at a rate of 17 percent, while other occupations are growing closer to nine percent. STEM degree holders tend to have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. Students and workers skilled in STEM play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of this country's economy, and remain a vital part of helping the United States win the future.   In short, STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and fuels the next generation of innovators.

Why STEM is Important for Both Sexes

STEM education is inherently designed to prepare both girls and boys for a future where most jobs will require a basic understanding of math and science, and where advanced skills will be critical. Children of both sexes will be needed in order to use the technology that powers the world. 

STEM is important for both boys and girls for these reasons:

  • Preparation of future jobs
  • Break down gender barriers
  • Tackle pressing issues such as climate change
  • Build confidence
  • Develop valuable life skills
  • Challenge boundaries
  • Invest in the future

Why STEM is Especially Important for Girls

STEM careers have a stigma as male-dominated fields. Yet for the first time in history, girls are exceeding their male classmates in both science and math. They are showing an even greater aptitude for the STEM classes, challenging that very stigma every single day. Girls who major in STEM go on to become CEOs of companies, leaders of industry and respected professionals -- no longer titles reserved just for men.

Diversity in the STEM work force has come a long way. As our country has rapidly transformed into an information-based economy, employment in STEM occupations has grown – indeed outpacing overall job growth. Since 1990, STEM employment has grown 79 percent and computer jobs have seen a 338 percent increase during the same period, according to Pew Research Center.

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Women in Tech - Successes and Challenges

 

Digital Transformation represents a paradigm shift that is revolutionising almost every field. We have to be aware and prepared for these forthcoming changes in order to innovatively manage operations and gain benefits.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the advancement of Emerging Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and so on. These big shifts and innovations in tech field are driving the digital workforce transformation. Several forces are changing the nature of work, such as the demand for digital skills and the emergence of new work models. It should be emphasized that, despite what many people can think, technology is going to act as an integrator and not as a replacement for skills needed: although machines will gradually become more powerful, humans will actually be even more essential.

About that, it’s important to analyze how women are involved in building the future of work. In fact, while the world of work is changing rapidly, advancements in workplace gender equality have progressed at a glacial pace. Women In Tech continue to be underrepresented and the World Economic Forum suggests that it will take 200 years to achieve workplace gender equality. It’s unfortunately true that tech is still a male-dominated world, since realities like the gender wage gap and the gender leadership gap lead to a lot of implicit bias.

The image here shows the results of a survey by Ivanti over 500 women working in technology across the globe.

As you’ll notice, being a woman in tech implies many successes. Some of the best things are: making a positive impact in organization/industry and doing a job that is never boring. But, as with any good thing, there are also many challenges involved. Among the biggest challenges emerged from the survey: being taken seriously due to gender perceptions (63% of WIT), having no female role models and gender pay gap.

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Why Women in Tech are Building a Better Tomorrow

 

More and more women are pursuing educations and careers in the STEM fields, and that is a good thing. Indeed, women in tech are building a better tomorrow, and we're going to go into why in a little bit. First, a few statistics.

A Look at the Numbers

Here are some interesting stats about women in the tech workforce, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology:

  • 57% of professional occupations in the 2018 U.S. workforce were held by women.
  • 26% of professional computing occupations in 2018 were held by women.
  • 20% of Fortune 500 CIO positions were held by women in 2018.
  • 3.5 million U.S. computing-related job openings are expected by 2026.
  • 49% of 2018 Intel Science and Engineering Fair finalists were female.

Most stats look promising, but some are actually moving backwards. For example, in 1985, 37% of computer science bachelor's degree recipients were women, compared with just 19% in 2017.

Why is this? According to a study in Entrepreneur, researchers say one reason women choose to not pursue computer science degrees is because they buy into the stereotypes about the types of people who work in the STEM field and can't picture themselves fitting into that framework.

As an aside, women should be treated like any other teammate, championing each other and giving credence to their expertise. A recent study in the Economist found that women's voices are judged more harshly than that of men. This is one barrier of many that discourages women from entering tech-heavy industries.

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