If you were making an important business or recruiting decision, I’m sure you would spend a lot of time preparing and researching. You’d understandably want to have all the facts and information so you could make an educated decision. No one wants to make a mistake - it’s human nature.
Now imagine for a moment that you had four individuals in your office who all specialized in your particular paint point area. You have talent and years of experience at your disposal, but decide you only want to hear from two of them. Does this sound like a great decision when the success of your company depends on getting this right?
In case you haven’t figured it out, this was a metaphor for the lack of integrating women and minorities in workplaces. By not encouraging or providing opportunities for women, companies (particularly in STEM fields) deprive themselves of equally talented professionals.
According to a report by Girls Who Code, 74% of girls are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. If three-quarters of all girls are interested in STEM fields, then why do so few go on to STEM-related careers? It’s the same - even at the highest levels of leadership. Only 5% of all leadership positions in the tech industry are held by women.
There are a myriad of problems that contribute to this dilemma. Equality of opportunity and encouragement is the first thing that must happen. Too many young women do not pursue STEM learning because they aren’t encouraged to do so. Gendered stereotypes about what boys and girls should be interested in only contribute to the problem. There is nothing about being male that inherently equips them with being better at STEM subjects.
The key to women taking their place in the professional world is two-fold: gaining education in those fields, and having an equal opportunity to assume those roles. Women already make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and STEM-based degree programs equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
A pay gap analysis by Earnest determined that the pay gap between men and women increases in senior-level positions. The pipeline for women in STEM positions has broadened dramatically, yet the outcomes haven’t caught up. It is the responsibility of decision makers to put the best individual for the job in the position, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social background.
Diversity is vital for businesses, and women in leadership roles positively impact the performance of those companies. A survey conducted and published by the Harvard Business Review found that women rank higher than men in twelve of sixteen core business competencies - particularly in self-development and collaboration. Women are forced to work harder to prove their capabilities, and the net result is that they are more results-driven than their male peers.
For businesses to succeed, they must not hamstring themselves by excluding the talents and experiences of women. Recruiters, decision makers, and mentors can positively impact not only their business but society by encouraging more women to take their well-earned place in leadership positions and STEM careers.
(Photo Credit: U.S. State Department / Public Domain)