Women in Science
Nerd. Geek. Smarty pants. You’ve heard them all. And you have powered through, holding strong to the knowledge that girls can do anything. So what is next? If the research is correct, a science, technology, engineering or mathematics career is waiting for you!
In 2012, the Girl Scouts of America revealed research that shows women are nearly half (48 percent) of the United State’s workforce, but they are underrepresented in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Interestingly, employers are vying for women graduating from STEM programs and, overall, women in STEM careers are better compensated than in other fields. So why aren’t more girls heading into this field?
Much of the discussion surrounding women in STEM careers centers on concerns that girls in grade school are discouraged from making science and math a priority. However, it seems that groups like the American Association of University Women, the Society of Women Engineers and even President Obama’s Council on Women and Girls are trying to change that thinking. What should you know? Read on for the basics.
Where to start
Colleges across the country have programs designed to assist women into STEM careers. Many four year schools offer everything from summer camps to workshops to assist you with an understanding of the course requirements you will need to pursue a career in one of the STEM fields.
For example, Karen A. Full, director of undergraduate admissions at Kettering University (kettering.edu) says, “Kettering University offers a two-week experience for high school juniors called LITE (Lives Improved Through Engineering) that teaches girls how engineers apply science, math and technology to finding solutions to human problems.” Also take advantage of career fairs at school, inquire about job shadowing with your guidance counselor and try to explore many different fields before you choose a college major.
Types of STEM careers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012) confirms that STEM fields are expected to add 2.7 million new jobs by 2018. Don’t think you will be stuck in a lab with test tubes all day if you choose a STEM career (unless, of course, you want to be in a lab). Think about collaborating with others and working as a team to invent the next hydrogen powered car or iPhone app. If you like art, consider the field of animation, illustrating or cartooning. Full also shared that “attending a cooperative education university can help students find the right field as well.” Students can apply what they are learning in school to real-life settings in the professional world and use that knowledge determine if a particular discipline is the right fit for them.
The right fit for women in science
Finding the right career path is difficult, but assistance from a mentor can be helpful. Carole Vogt, associate principal engineer — packaging, has had a few mentors in her decade-long career at Kraft Foods. Presently, “my mentor is also my boss who helps me maneuver through the business side of things,” Vogt shared. “His assistance has helped me gain confidence in my problem solving and technical skills, and his advice allows me to fine-tune different aspects of my position, such as presentations and clear, concise directions.”
The bottom line
There is more opportunity than ever for young women in science to pursue and succeed in a STEM career. Start by identifying which jobs and skills appeal to you and then actively pursue mentors to guide you toward your goals and interests. With a dedication of time and effort, as well as assistance from a guidance counselor and a college admissions professional, you’ll find yourself headed for success!
Kelli O’Connor is a freelance writer in Rochester, N.Y.