As children, our dreams and aspirations are far-reaching, but as years go by, those dreams for many women fall short. Why is that? As children we saw no fear, heard no evil; we felt anything and everything was possible.
As adults, we can learn a lot from the fearless child we once were. If we did, would there be more than a 12 percent female mix working in technology? Would society be more inclusive overall?
As a female working in the tech industry, I often wonder why so few women take the risk to embark on careers in technology. Last year I project managed a mentoring program called STEM Aspire at Dell which aims to motivate, inspire and empower females studying technology at 3rd level.
The students are matched with female Dell role models with the objective to encourage these students to remain in third level and assure them of endless opportunities in the tech industry. The program helps to boost confidence to perform at third level and ultimately succeed in careers in STEM. I am passionate about this program and hope we can inspire and empower female students in STEM to push themselves out of their comfort zone, to challenge norms and to be successful.
This brings me to ask, so is the real issue that girls are more conservative when it comes to taking risks and making decisions? Why not take the risk? Why not become the next IT guru or entrepreneur? Why not become the scientist, the engineer or data scientist you dreamt of being when you were a child?
The fact is that unless we as females take the risk and make the choice to work in the STEM field, then society will never change. To quote a line from a STEM Aspire book club book author, Susan Jeffries, “Feel the Fear and do it anyway…take the risk and it’s ok if you feel you don’t succeed because the real success is taking the risk.”
Last year I also attended a VMWare Diversity & Inclusion event which answered many of my questions as to why women take less risks in careers. The bottom line is that women tend to be more self aware and less confidant. However when women are treated equally in the workplace, when they are included in social groups; they tend to come out of their shell, speak up and gain more confidence. We as employers need to be mindful of this and inspire women to progress equally their careers.
As Susan Jeffers says, “Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.”
Don’t let the margins between men and women in STEM continue to grow, make that childhood dream come true, take that risk, challenge the norm in society and achieve your potential.
Find out more about Dell’s efforts to involve girls and women in STEM fields.