Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), an opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout the world. With IWD’s focus on accelerating gender parity, we decided to highlight the ongoing underrepresentation of women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
Why supporting women in STEM is so important
According to a 2011 report by the Economics and Statistics Administration, women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs and there are no signs of this increasing. In fact, this percentage remained constant from 2000 to 2009 and this underrepresentation impacts both income potential and employability. A recent review of job prospects for millennials that ranked jobs by salary and projected job showed that 13 of the 25 top jobs were in STEM fields. Increasing the number of women working in STEM will not only create more career opportunities for women, but will also benefit the workforce and the population at large. Ultimately, the tech community needs diversity in its workers so that it can deliver the high-quality technology needed for our diverse world.
To close the gender gap in STEM jobs, we need to start with education, especially in mathematics, engineering and computer science, currently the most underrepresented of the STEM fields. In Canada, our 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) found women accounted for only 23% of those who graduated from engineering and 30% of those who graduated from mathematics and computer science programs.
But there are solutions. Many in the tech community are actively encouraging women to pursue careers in these specific fields. For instance, Intelliware partners with local high schools for our Ada Lovelace Day celebration, where middle/high school girls join us to celebrate and participate in STEM career path activities.
Read more on why Intelliware feels diversity is a strength in the workplace.
Organizations, especially those in the tech community with lots of STEM jobs, need to make diversity a priority and think about how best to recruit, grow and retain a diverse team. At Intelliware, we’ve been focusing on our work environment through two initiatives; providing work-life flexibility and ensuring a supportive and learning-focused culture.
Professional women in all fields are still finding it difficult to juggle their career and family lives. A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found women with children were much more likely than men in the same situation (51% v 16%) to say that being a working parent has made it harder for them to advance in their career. At Intelliware, we reinforce the idea that the responsibilities of having a family can be balanced with professional responsibilities. We invest heavily in creating an environment that supports a sustainable workload, offers flexible working hours and provides paid sick leave in support of personal/family commitments. Providing this type of flexibility to all of our employees gives our teams the ability to deliver their best.
Supportive, learning-focused culture
Part of successful work-life integration is providing all of our employees with opportunities for self-development, no matter what their schedule. In addition to learning opportunities within our projects, each employee is entitled to three weeks paid leave per year for training, research and development, and knowledge sharing initiatives.
On top of investing in learning, we feel it’s important to provide career development support. At Intelliware, coaching and mentorship is facilitated through an inclusive, collaborative project-room environment that supports learning and continuous improvement. Students, new grads and those transitioning into a new role can receive extra guidance and support from their teammates as they ramp up. As well, we offer team lead mentorship programs and new hire buddy programs for more formal partnerships.
Check out more details on Intelliware’s workplace benefits.
Even as we explore, share and iterate the best practices for supporting and increasing women in STEM jobs at Intelliware, the underrepresentation of women in our tech roles, and in the STEM industry as a whole, highlights the need for continued investment and improvement.