STEM and the glass ceiling: take what is yours

It is important for organisations across industries to recognise the value of diversity and inclusion and to take steps to empower women in the tech industry.

STEM and the glass ceiling: take what is yours

Friday March 10, 2023,

4 min Read

The dearth of women in STEM fields has been the subject of much debate for decades. Gender biases and discrimination, stereotypes, the lack of role models, and inadequate support, have been among the key reasons for this. Consequently, the tech industry has traditionally been male dominated for years.

Over the last decade, this has been changing – to a point. The number of women in STEM has significantly increased. However, data from the National Science Foundation shows that while 52% of women enrolled for STEM courses for their graduation, only 29% of them joined the STEM workforce.


In India, women make up nearly 43% of the total STEM graduates—one of the highest in the world. But they comprise only 14% of scientists, engineers, and technologists in research development institutions and universities, according to World Bank data.  At the C-suite, only 3% of women hold the post of CEOs.


Here are a few steps we can take to encourage more women to take up STEM careers: 

Starting young

Parents are the role models for their children and what they choose on behalf of their children is often what defines careers for a long time to come. At such an impressionable age, it becomes critical for parents not to stereotype important decisions in their children’s lives such as choosing social science for girls and science for boys. They must encourage their girls to choose careers based on their choice and interest. They must encourage careers in STEM if their children have a flair for it.

Mentorship

Corporates have a moral and business responsibility to nurture and encourage women in tech. Organisations must encourage mentorship programs for women. The mentors can be women in technical roles at leadership positions who can teach by example. If there are no women in senior tech positions, companies must partner with institutions to get external speakers, who can become role models for women and encourage them to grow in STEM.

Learning & development

A significant number of women leave their STEM careers because they’re not able to keep themselves current and relevant. This is an area of improvement where organisations can help women with providing the necessary training and development. Innovative learning methods such as gamification, hackathons, anytime learning, byte-sized learning will help women in staying relevant, even as they circumvent personal milestones in their professional careers. Continuous learning is crucial in STEM careers and these methods will encourage women to reskill/upskill themselves, thereby future-proofing their careers.

Gender bias

Kelly Global Workforce insights say that nearly 81% of Indian women in STEM faced gender bias in performance evaluations and a large proportion felt that their companies would not offer them top positions. And that leads to a gap in pay.


Women earn significantly less than their male counterparts and when it comes to STEM, the gender-based pay gap is right from the start. Companies can work on sensitisation drives in the company about different kinds of bias. They can ensure that panels for recruitment have women representatives who can ensure parity for new joinees. They can also have policies in place that can ensure pay parity.


We are constantly pushing the gender envelope in order to achieve leadership roles with an equal seat at the table. While there is much work to be done to increase the representation of women in the tech industry, these efforts are making a real difference, and we can expect to see more and more women rising up the ranks in the years to come.


While there is a lot of attention on women CEOs, our contributions in STEM will go a long way in getting what’s due to us. It is important for organisations across industries to recognise the value of diversity and inclusion and to take steps to empower women in the tech industry. We do it not just for ourselves, but for those that did it before us, and those that follow in our footsteps.


(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)






Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan