Empowering Women in Tech
There’s good news – the number of women in STEM careers is definitely on the rise, in all STEM fields from Biology to Engineering. What about the Computer Science and Mathematical fields? That’s the bad news. Those fields in particular have been experiencing a decline in the number of women pursuing them, and this has been happening since the 1990s.
Many people would believe this is due to stereotypes, that the stigma against women working in technology is too strong for the current population to overcome. However, the powerful ladies of the Women’s Innovation Council had different things to say about that. They started by stating facts about the educational system in the United States, which was definitely lacking in several key areas. Surprise surprise: Mathematics was among them. Boys also tended to score better than girls in mathematics in the US, while in other countries the studies showed the exact opposite.
Now they weren’t disregarding the programs that schools had in place for coding and the like. They did point out though, that the programs were all far too disjointed and spread out to create a cohesively useful collection of programs for any potential participants. Those precious few are most likely confused as to which program to join, and as the paradox of choice states, the sheer number of choices may have overwhelmed the girls too much to allow them safe and comfortable passage into the world of coding.
To reinforce their point, they brought female college students up to the forefront of the talk to discuss their own stories, their current stance in their pursuit of the career they chose for themselves. Eight female students in the field of Computer Science represented Foothill College in the 4th Annual Women’s Innovation Council on the 11th of February this year. It was hosted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Half Moon Bay, California. Naturally, these students are the very students in the Women in STEM club! Representatives from other reputable higher education facilities such as Stanford University and Santa Clara University also attended, making the event one that an aspiring Computer Science-majoring woman did not want to miss.
A workshop was also held where one to two of the ladies on the Council were sent to tables where the students were able to converse with them and ask for advice as to how they would be able to advance in their search for a STEM job. It was a nice experience, being able to talk directly with these women and gain the knowledge they very happily gave us, listing some paths we might have wanted to research further.
A group discussion followed, where each table discussed the college student’s journey to Computing, covering all the bases to bring the night to a fine close. Most college students had also mentioned that they had trouble finding actual role models in Tech to look up to, to which these successful and established women replied, “Let’s take selfies together!” With some very happy sounds of agreement and a few vigorous nods, the selfies were taken and everyone went home empowered, with a new outlook on the bleak-looking prospects of being a woman in a technological or mathematical field.
The event opened our eyes to a great many things, not least of which happen to be the temperament these women projected. Where people normally view powerful women through bossy or micromanaging lenses, the women we saw today were down to earth, sweet and very accommodating when one is engaged in conversation with them. If there was one thing I took away from this amazing event, it was these words echoing through my mind: “This is it, these are the type of women I would love to be when I grow up.”