May 7, 2018
Leslee Hill, WEOC Director
There is a major push in the U.S. to teach S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum in schools. In today’s business climate, women are fighting to be heard and seen. Tech is a major industry being scrutinized for an underwhelming representation of females. So what is really happening?
What is the current landscape of women in S.T.E.M roles?
- Only 18 to 20 percent of all engineering students are women
- Women entrepreneurs begin with 1/8 the funding compared to male-owned ventures
- Women-operated ventures have 12 percent higher revenues than those operated by men
- Only 5 percent of tech start-ups are operated by women. The cybersecurity industry is facing a projected skills gap of 1.8 million qualified workers in the next five years.
How can I encourage females to start S.T.E.M. businesses?
- Start smashing. Smash the belief that males are better than females at math and science. A recent study shows girls and boys score closely in math and science. Girls even outperform boys in reading. Polling also indicates that girls are more interested in reading than boys.
- Support women entering male-dominated S.T.E.M. professions, including entrepreneurship.
- Females currently in S.T.E.M. leadership roles and business owners need to be more visible, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Seek speaking engagements, volunteer for interviews, participate in school programs to educate and help guide students, amplify your social media brand and write books. Get out there and show yourself. Be the inspiration you want to see in the world.
- Mentoring is critical. Women and men should mentor and sponsor females – in S.T.E.M. and ALL fields. Those who invest their time in a mentoring relationship are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions. Beyond its “soft” benefits, it pays to mentor and be mentored.
How does one start a S.T.E.M. business?
Start. The anxiety over starting a business is similar to the anxiety one feels when deciding to see a therapist. The first step is the hardest: ask for help. In Fort Wayne, there are so many amazing resources – many offered at no charge. Contact WEOC, The NIIC, ISBDC, SCORE, Brightpoint or the CDC, to name a few. Try one and see what grows.
Phone: (260) 407-6442