It’s refreshing to work at a tech company with a majority of women employees (and something we love to brag about here at SAC!). If you’re looking to improve your organization’s inclusiveness of women, we want to help you out! As you may know, we surveyed some women we know who currently work in STEM-related fields. One of the questions we asked was: What do you think organizations could do to encourage more women to become interested in tech/STEM positions?
Even if you just want the bragging rights, making your organization’s work environment more hospitable is to everyone is commendable. Both women and men are sure to feel more comfortable, appreciated, and respected.
Just follow the sage advice of these ladies:
Tech/STEM has a reputation as being less people-oriented than other fields, which for some women is a negative. (Not all – plenty of us introverted women out there!) Showing how STEM fields make life better for people – and still include interactions with people – might help. Another drawback to IT especially is the shift work and on-call responsibilities, which can be more challenging for women because of their family responsibilities and their desire to stay involved in their children’s activities and schools. Flexible work schedules help when possible.
-Lisa Vasa, CISO
More focus on teambuilding and communication helps all of us bond – we are social creatures after all! It’s important to remember that a woman’s life does not revolve around the office. Like Lisa mentions, a flexible work schedule can help a woman balance business and the rest of her life gracefully.
I don’t know about organizations; many of those attitudes start at home. It’s so important that girls are able to flex their thinking without interference from anyone. However, I think orgs could focus on STEM education credits/tuition reimbursement. Or, if they can’t afford that, offer suggestions through HR regarding certifications or training that are the most helpful to the org itself (and not just the silly ‘education portals’ like “Company University” – those are not very applicable to true STEM training.
-Anonymous Respondent, Technical Writer
It’s true! If you’re a girl interested in STEM, then go out there and go for it! We have loads of resources to help inspire careers in STEM. And your organization can be inspiring too. Opportunities like internships, school credits, and training programs can be the push a girl may need to get into her desired field.
I think there isn’t enough visibility for women out there. We all know about the male “heroes”: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and so on and so on… It seems to me like men are role models for everyone, while women are often mentioned only in the context of the importance of diversity, and as role models for other women, but not for men. I wish there could be more visibility for capable women during coed events, or more opportunities to showcase their work without necessarily marketing those opportunities as a diversity effort.
-Maria, Software Engineer
Highlight the women you work with; what is it they do that rocks? And make it genuine. People can tell when they themselves or others are being used to showcase an organization’s “diversity”. This practice is demeaning, but when women can inspire both their female and male peers it’s dignifying.
Honestly, stop creating a divide amongst genders by separating or siloing. All prospects and employees should be treated equally and taken through the same process. Now this is normally the case for most companies but there are times when it becomes clear that most of the dev team is male. If I were the head of HR in that company, I would recruit my a** off to find a rockstar woman to join the dev team and then record an interview of her speaking to prospects about why she joined the team and what makes the company/product unique in her eyes. For companies: reject the stereotypes and move forward.
-Kailani Joy, Marketing & PR Consultant
Diversity strengthens; it doesn’t divide. So don’t be the reason those divides are present! Always hire for skill set, passion, and ingenuity, but don’t keep hiring the same kind of person. Even if a personality (or gender!) is different from the rest of the groups, if they are a good hire then they’ll bring something new to the team.
Show more trust in the ones that they do have that are knowledgeable, and that level of respect would maybe encourage more young women to enter the field. Male or female, tech work is not black and white. You have to be able to think logically, pull from experience, and apply process of elimination where there are multiple possible causes for the same symptoms. Not all ‘people’ have the ability to reason/think in that way.
-Anonymous, Compliance Manager
Tech work is definitely not black and white, It is ever-changing, so one of the best qualifications a hire can have is adaptability. These are the types of workers you want in your organization, no matter if they’re male or female!
Make women more visible in a professional, yet comfortable way. Women in STEM positions should appear relaxed and comfortable. When I hold Cyber Career workshops at high schools, the young women wait for the guys to leave and tell me they’re interested in cybersecurity but worry that they’ll have to change to be happy and accepted.
-Amy Werry, Information Security Awareness Specialist
It’s discouraging to read about girls assuming they’ll be automatically unhappy working in STEM. So we women who are already here need to show that life can be tremendously rewarding with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics related career. Encourage the women who are already in your organization to speak out as to why they love their job and how it works for them!
That’s right, a job can work for all employees! You and your organization just need to check in with employees to make sure their jobs ARE working FOR them. Talk to the women you already work with and see if their needs are being met. Encourage them to speak out about their positive experiences so that other girls won’t be as intimidated by STEM careers.
And get creative! If your organization is really dedicated to involving more women in your field, work at it. Don’t be afraid to make changes and take chances. Don’t hesitate to take to heart the advice these women have given, and you just may end up helping to bring in a whole new generation of women to STEM!