On International Women’s Day 2018, I reflect on why it’s more important than ever to encourage more young people, particularly women, into STEM careers.
As a mechanical engineering graduate and the only female on my course, I left university with a passion to encourage more women to consider careers in STEM. Often students assume careers in STEM are ‘hard’, ’technical’ and only for those who are very academic. But, in my experience, STEM requires creativity, problem-solving and communication skills and that’s what it should be known for.
STEM is all around us, it’s in everything we do; we are all so reliant on its outputs. The phones we use, the modes of transport that we are so dependent on, the buildings that house and school us… STEM practitioners are often behind all the things we take for granted in life and the more people we can encourage into STEM fields, the safer, healthier and smarter the world will hopefully become.
As STEM practitioners, we have a duty to reach out and inspire the next generation of professionals. So where do we start?
Shout about STEM
It’s easy to get involved and inspire someone into STEM. You can do this by volunteering to talk at a school careers event, by posting fun facts about your role on social media or by just sharing your career experiences with children in your friends and family circles.
It’s not what you do, it’s how you think
STEM is a mind-set, a way of thinking, a methodical approach. Careers in STEM can be as boiler room or as board room as you like and anything in between! Often perceived as being hard hats, white coats and technical sums, it’s key to get across the message that STEM careers can also involve time in corporate boardrooms, design studios and state of the art offices.
STEM skills make a positive contribution to the world
Many of the global challenges we face in the world are in need of STEM-based thinking to help enhance people’s lives and improve efficiency. This is why careers in STEM can be so rewarding- they can make a difference to society at large.
There is a general lack of knowledge to the endless opportunities available in STEM. It’s not a career choice that young people, girls in particular, are necessarily exposed to from an early age. That’s why it’s important for those already in the industry to reach out and inspire the next generation of professionals, to show them they are just as smart, capable and driven to make a genuine difference to the world.
If each of us were to inspire just one more person into pursuing a career in STEM, imagine the pipeline of future STEM professionals we could create.
Celebrate International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is taking place on 8 March 2018. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #IWD2018.