Growing in STEM: Why Professional Development for Women in STEM is Crucial to Business Success

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Despite increasing efforts encouraging women to study and practice within the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics industries, otherwise known as STEM, women remain noticeably absent in these fields today. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2019, women only made up 27% of STEM workers and just 48% of U.S. workers overall. Since women were historically excluded from this space, organizations must first understand the factors that keep women pursuing these fields. One of these factors is a lack of movement and support within the businesses trying to recruit them. For companies that want to recruit more women in STEM and maintain those that are already employed, companies must begin by creating professional development resources and opportunities that show growth and advancement of women in STEM are available, and the ability to build community among their peers is welcome and valued.

Generate New Opportunities and Grow Leaders

If there is a new role within your company that you’re having a hard time filling, it can be of great benefit to look within. With guidance and most likely minimal training, women in related areas of your business, such as information technology and computer engineering, can take on new opportunities which they are qualified for but may not have imagined themselves going into. When businesses prioritize opening doors for women in the workplace, especially for women in STEM, they create new opportunities for women to grow into fields that lack their representation while providing a more inclusive work environment. Additionally, providing development opportunities and new, challenging work opportunities for women in STEM advances the leadership pipeline for women in these areas of your business and beyond.

Improves Talent Acquisition

Professionals want to go where they feel welcome and can grow. Therefore, when searching for a new role, candidates often look beyond the job description for ways that the company supports the professional development of their employees. There are several ways companies can provide professional development benefits to women in STEM, including offering industry-specific training courses, providing mentoring and sponsorship, and supporting STEM Employee Resource Groups. While development opportunities will help them expand their knowledge and skills, employee resource groups pertaining to their roles or interests will help them build relationships and community that will reinforce their commitment to your organization. When businesses take the time necessary to provide these resources to employees, they demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and reinforce that women in STEM are valued within this workplace.

Organizations that provide professional development and community to women in STEM move out of the past and toward a brighter future where inclusivity is the business standard and women are equally represented in STEM industries. Take time to evaluate the representation of women in STEM within your business today, and make changes that support women’s growth, advancement, and community building so women STEM professionals are more present within these fields now and in the future.

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  • Growing in STEM: Why Professional Development for Women in STEM is Crucial to Business Success STEM

    SWE Blog

    SWE Blog provides up-to-date information and news about the Society and how our members are making a difference every day. You’ll find stories about SWE members, engineering, technology, and other STEM-related topics.

  • Growing in STEM: Why Professional Development for Women in STEM is Crucial to Business Success STEM

    Patti Demitros

    Patti Demitros is the Director of Organizational Development and Talent Management at Elkay Manufacturing. Patti’s career spans over 30 years of Human Resources, Learning and Development and Talent Management experience. Patti’s career has included design and implementation of training departments from the ground up, leading functions such as talent development, leadership development, talent management, performance management and learning management implementation(s) and administration, employee engagement, change management, competencies development and curriculum design and development.Patti is passionate about playing a key role in a strategic business environment that supports growing and developing talent. Patti earned her Bachelor’s in Business Management degree and Sales and Marketing Certificate from Cardinal Stritch, Milwaukee, WI. She is certified in: Ken Blanchard’s SLII, Profiles International Assessments, Hogan Assessments, and Insights Discover Yourself.

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