Advancing Women in Technology

Nancy Anderson
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Companies that require advanced knowledge of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) must encourage more women in technology fields to join their organizations. Although more women are entering STEM fields, many are hesitant due to the perceived lack of advancement opportunities for women. Firms can do three things to provide women a solid base to enter STEM careers.

1. School Recruiting

Recruiting women in technology fields should start early, while students are still in grade school and before they apply for college. According to a survey from software developing company iCIMS, 61 percent of recruiters are interested in hiring candidates with STEM degrees, but only 23 percent of college seniors graduate with that degree. That's a gap of twice as many firms that need STEM-based workers versus those who obtain those degrees.

Companies need to develop partnerships with high schools and middle schools to encourage more girls to think about STEM professions. Firms that wait to recruit people in college are starting too late, because students already settle into a major of study. Students need to know early on how advanced STEM subjects benefit women in technology fields and why achieving success in school is vital to their future careers.

Some elementary schools in Wisconsin recognized that kids who start building paper catapults and contraptions in elementary school turn into computer coders in high school. Starting the push for STEM early in a girl's life fosters an interest and passion that is likely to stick with her throughout her career.

2. Returnships

More companies should offer returnships for women in technology. This benefit allows women to take extended leaves of absence while guaranteeing their positions are there when they return to work. This allows women to take several months or even a few years to start a family or advance their careers. Returnships also offer men an opportunity to take care of children while women go back to school.

The difficulty with this benefit is that half of women believe taking parental leave decreases their chances for promotion. A full 95 percent of millennials would work for a firm that offers returnships that they could tap into at some point in the future. Companies must alleviate any perception of problems or stigmas when it comes to taking parental leave.

3. Mentoring

Getting more women to start STEM careers is only half of the equation. The other part involves keeping young women on their career path. As such, women in technology may feel lost without a leader to guide them once they obtain an entry-level job. Much like offering returnships, employers need mentorships and leadership development programs to show women that they have a viable support network in place for career advancement.

Mentors can offer new hires tips and tricks for success in Stem fields that aren't found in text books or employee manuals. Mentoring should include programs to improve strategic, leadership, technical and communications skills. One of the easiest ways to do this is by connecting younger women with senior female leaders within the company.

Women in technology can thrive and flourish in STEM-based positions. Recruiters simply need to establish viable programs to land the best and the brightest women once they enter the labor market.

Photo courtesy of University of Exeter at


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  • Ishmael M.
    Ishmael M.

    My daughter is doing computer science at BSc level and she need financial aid

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