Cracking the Code: The Next Generation of Women in STEM
by Beth Phalen, President & GM, Data Protection
As a young girl, I had a natural affinity for math and science. I was also lucky enough to have early exposure to computers through close family members working in the early days of the tech industry. However, it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I was first introduced to computer science; it was not offered in the classroom until that point. I signed up for the class because it seemed like an interesting way to apply my love of Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and possibly a neat way to make a living. It never occurred to me that this profession was “gendered,” on the contrary – I thought it wide open to everyone. Years later, I find myself reflecting on why there aren’t more women in STEM. With all of the opportunities that a career in this field offers – especially the ways in which it helps serve others, the environment, society and the communities we live in – the applications are endless.
I was recently invited to attend a forum hosted by Dell and The Atlantic – a magazine covering a wide array of subjects, including business, culture and technology. The event, Cracking the Code: The Next Generation of Women in STEM, invited an audience, ranging from chief technology officers to storybook authors, to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time: How do we engage the next generation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics? Much of the dialogue encompassing the event connected me to many thoughts on the ways we can engage young girls in STEM.
Don’t be afraid to take an “I don’t know” experience, and turn it into, “let’s find the answer together!” View failures as discoveries, make learning a fun and empowering experience for both parties.
Make Women in STEM More Visible
Role models are powerful. When girls are able to see other women going into STEM, they are more likely to see themselves in those roles and be more apt to find careers in these fields. Let’s find more ways to increase representation, whether it be through Wikipedia pages highlighting women in STEM, story books, or films and TV shows. At Dell Technologies, we’ve launched a mentorship challengeto encourage our teams to connect with the next generation. One conversation can make a real impression.
STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math
Integrating art into science, technology, engineering and mathematics allows us to tap into the many dimensions of STEM. This can open STEM education for even more of our youth, and show how they can apply creativity to STEM to fuel innovation that helps human progress.
Every one of us has the power to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of women. On this International Day of the Girl, make it a point to expose a young girl in your life to the many unique and exciting paths leading into STEM and the dynamic journeys they can offer in this field. I’ve personally chosen to take Dell’s challenge and will soon be proudly mentoring a young girl. What will you do?
You can also read more on Direct2Dell about how Dell works with Girls Who Code to encourage more girls to study STEM topics.