By Melissa Manuel, University Registrar, NEOM University
In a world marked by constant innovation and technological advancement, it's essential to recognize the critical role women play in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, aka STEM, fields. Despite challenges, women have risen to prominence as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technology experts, contributing significantly to academia, corporate success, and research.
Historically, STEM fields have been male-dominated, with women facing significant barriers to entry and advancement. However, the past few decades have seen remarkable progress. Women have defied stereotypes and shattered glass ceilings in various STEM disciplines. Today, they serve as role models, inspiring future generations to pursue their passions in these fields.
While progress has been made, challenges persist, and more work is needed to ensure that women continue to thrive in STEM fields. Here are some strategies to support and empower women in STEM:
Education and Outreach Programs: Schools and universities can provide STEM-focused outreach programs and scholarships to encourage young girls to explore STEM fields.
Mentorship and Sponsorship: The importance of mentorship cannot be overstated. Women in STEM should mentor and inspire the next generation, helping them navigate the unique challenges they may face. In addition, understand and promote sponsorship for women (as opposed to mentorship) in education and career advancement. For more information, see the AACRAO Women’s Caucus January 2023 webinar, Mentorship vs Sponsorship: Unlocking the Key to Enhancing Women’s Career Velocity.
Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Organizations should actively promote diversity and inclusion, fostering environments where women feel valued, supported, and included.
Networking Opportunities: Encourage women to participate in STEM-related events, conferences, and forums to build connections and expand their knowledge.
Policy and Advocacy: Advocate for policies that promote gender equality and equal opportunities for women in STEM, both in academia and industry.
The contributions of women in STEM are invaluable, with their innovations and discoveries shaping our world for the better. By acknowledging the progress made and taking proactive steps to support women in STEM, we can look forward to a future where the existing barriers no longer deter young women from pursuing their passions in STEM. Through mentorship, education, and advocacy, we can empower women in STEM to continue their remarkable journey of breaking barriers and forging new paths.
Watch the recording of our October 31, 2023, webinar hosted by the AACRAO Women’s Caucus, Origins of the STEM Gender Gap: Understanding the Impact of Gender Stereotypes from Preschooler to Professional.