Levelling the Playing Field for Women in STEM
Despite recent efforts to encourage more women to enter — and stay in — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the number of men in STEM fields remains much higher. On top of that, many women who currently work in STEM believe there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to equal opportunities for career development, according to a survey quoted by NBC News:
- 91 percent of survey respondents agreed that gender discrimination continued to be a career obstacle.
- 88 percent of respondents agreed that gender bias hindered women’s career development.
- 100 percent of respondents stated that a lack of confidence held them back.
When you know that gender diversity can make organizations more productive, it’s clearly critical to start taking steps to level the playing field for women in STEM roles at your company. These tips to promote a gender inclusive work environment can help:
- Write job descriptions that also target women. According to Harvard Business Review, women only apply for jobs if they meet 100 percent of the requirements, while men apply if they meet only 60 percent. To remedy this, you could separate “nice to have” skills from required ones, as Glassdoor points out. You could even check your language to make sure you use the correct gender tone.
- Reduce unconscious bias within your team. Entrepreneur reports that women are often viewed in a negative light when they assert themselves or earn leadership roles in fields that are typically dominated by men. You can combat this by providing gender diversity training that helps your team members recognize and correct any biased behaviours and attitudes.
- Give women positive feedback. Women in STEM don’t always believe in their abilities. That’s why your feedback and support is critical to boosting their self-confidence and helping them advance.
- Provide women on the team with equal opportunities to men. Don’t let their lack of confidence keep you from giving them stretch assignments and other challenges that can help them grow.
- Offer mentorships. Connect the women on your team with more experienced professionals who can help and support them throughout their careers. Providing role models who can serve as examples of what you can achieve in STEM can be both motivating and inspiring.
It might take some time to adjust your team’s thinking and create a more inclusive work environment where women have equal opportunities to men. But once you level the field, you, your team and your organization can benefit from the knowledge, skills and innovative ideas women bring to the table.