Statistically and historically speaking, the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have been dominated by males. Today, that is still very true, though there are starting to be trends of more women in STEM, cybersecurity, and other computer-based skills thanks to programs and individuals actively working to get more females involved in these fields.
Diversity of all types has been repeatedly proven to improve business fluidity and increase bottom lines, and women in STEM fields is no different. There aren’t too many silver linings with COVID-19, but the opportunities to grow are more abundant than in the past, and everyone has a little bit more time on their hands aside from healthcare workers.
With that in mind, whether you’re a woman who has always been interested in STEM, a parent who wants to get their own daughters more exposure, or an employer who thinks it’s about time to see more females in the field, the time for more women in STEM is now.
Though not effecting the immediate future, initiatives in STEM for young girls are becoming more and more popular. Girlstart, for instance, is a volunteer organization that provides informal STEM education to interested female students k-12, and also helps raise money to send girls to events like the annual Girls in STEM conference. There are many other similar programs that help introduce and educate girls into the fields.
When it comes to secondary education, proportion similar to the workforce exists. Only about 30% of STEM degree holders are women, but programs like Million Women Mentors exist to help guide young women into degree programs in STEM, and also provide resources to help them along the way, both academically and professionally, as they enter the male-dominated workforce.
For women considering a career change to a STEM field, online education has never been easier to come by, and many job shadowing opportunities exist, too, though slightly different now with COVID lockdowns.
Regarding the present, and immediate future, companies should take this time to evaluate their staff demographics and encourage anyone, especially women, who wants to make a lateral move to a STEM position to do so. Certainly training will be needed, but statistics show that the long run is better suited with a more diverse workforce. Females in collaborative teams and leadership roles consistently perform better than their male counterparts, and though underrepresented in STEM, the outcomes are the same. With societal pressure and statistical proof that diversity is good for the bottom line, staffing personnel should be looking to make changes, and women with interests in these positions should be approaching management and applying unapologetically.
A great STEM path for anyone to take, especially women, is in cybersecurity. Estimates say that 2021 will bring with it 3.5 million new jobs in cybersecurity, and that may even be a bit conservatives on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses that have moved to remote work during stand down are finding it quite beneficial for many reasons. A lot of employees are happier, there is less cost for travel, and zero cost for office time. With these things in mind, the security of online markets and closed networks is more booming than ever.
As of 2018, only 11% of cybersecurity jobs were held by women. With that large disparity, and the upcoming wave of cybersecurity jobs, there are countless advantages for women who want to pursue a STEM career to look very closely at the fields revolving around cyber security.