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Women in STEM – What their future in the business world holds

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Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are the four main fields that colleges are working hardest to attract promising young talent. In order to stay competitive on a global level, U.S. based schools and employers have to drastically improve their hiring and educational efforts. Women and girls, in particular, are being encouraged to participate in robotics clubs, STEM conferences, and A.P. level classes. As the story goes, things are starting to look brighter for women in STEM. The truth is they are learning that the glass ceiling is everywhere, including in the places where they have been most encouraged to venture into. If women continue to combine a concentration in STEM with the business world, there could be many major developments in the immediate future.

The shift towards a woman-dominated business world

Despite the progress that has been made, there is still a disparity in the pay rate between the sexes that is impossible to ignore. Some financial experts estimate that women make approximately $.70 for every $1 that men earn, but on the bright side that gap is narrowing for women business owners. According to Fundera, women make up approximately 40 percent of all U.S. based business owners. Fundera also notes that women are much less likely than men to seek out outside funding via business loans, which is a fact that can either have a positive or negative impact depending on who is interpreting the data. From women daycare owners to female medical device manufacturing company owners, there is an increasing number of women who have decided to strike out on their own. This all points to even more good news in the future as more and more women move into STEM related fields.

More women are becoming filthy stinking rich

Whether you consider people such as MacKenzie Bezos, one of the world’s newest minted female billionaires, or other movers and shakers in the business world, one thing is clear. Dollar for dollar, women are increasing their net worth. They are taking on the same amount of domestic responsibilities, increasingly indicating that they are the sole breadwinners in their families as well as the sole caretakers. Women are also still going to college and attaining their degrees at a growing rate. While marriage rates fall, the average new worth of women is slowly but steadily going up. If anything, this means that they are faring quite well in this new world, which means that future generations of women in STEM should be well positioned to excel.

Women in business – Present and future generations

While women have always been business owners, they have always faced challenges. It used to be unheard of for a woman to be able to go to a bank and ask for a loan to fund her business. As a result, many women just naturally came to the realization that they would have to fund their businesses themselves. Some worked in low wage jobs for years until they were able to collect enough money to buy property, pay for equipment, and launch their own companies. Women have gotten together, overcome the worst of it all, and are looking to make things better for future generations of girls. Even with the current economic downturn, women are being creative, and resourceful, and they aren’t giving up the fight. If the future turns out anything like the past, then things are almost certain to pan out in the favor of women everywhere. And an entire generation of girls and young women are seeing what women are doing today, taking notes and preparing to follow in their footsteps.

Why STEM is becoming more inviting to women

Just a few decades ago, there was a prevalent sexist notion that certain jobs and even fields of studies were absolutely not for women. Women were encouraged to write flowy poetry and prose, but it was rare that you would find a female professor of mathematics teaching at major university outside of a handful of major cities. Technology companies were not keen to hire female IT technicians, and robotics was an almost entirely male profession. Certainly, you would be hard pressed to find a female electrical engineer. With schools like Kettering University Online accepting people from all backgrounds for STEM degrees, the tide is changing and women are doing it all. First and foremost, leaders in STEM fields realized that there was a serious gender imbalance. Many realized that encouraging women to train in STEM fields would help the nation to grow and flourish, and create a more balanced and positive work environment for all under represented groups.

Improved public school curriculum

Not all that long ago, many public schools only offered basic courses in math and science. In order to get a specialized education, attendance at a private or charter school was necessary. In the case of low-income public schools, only a cursory education in basic math and science subjects was available. Then came online schools, and bigger budgets, more federal funding, and a focus on STEM. Public schools began banding together, offering after-school programs dedicated to teaching advanced math and robotics. Leaders in STEM fields volunteered their time, helping to foster the potential they saw in talented kids. With a better school curriculum and more of a focus on STEM, girls and women have benefitted greatly, if not indirectly.

More girl-centered STEM clubs

In an effort to ensure that girls did not get left behind, a number of programs developed specifically for adolescent girls interested in STEM began to pop up. Although initially a foreign concept, thankfully many families embraced the idea of encouraging their daughters to go into STEM. And for the girls who participated, they found their confidence. They did pay attention to what the naysayers thought, and they continued to strive to do their best. Instead of being an anomaly, girls exceling in STEM became the norm. Soon, entire competitions for girls in STEM popped up, inspiring state level championships, national conventions, and international competitions. STEM clubs, whether for girls, boys, or both, helped to make STEM popular amongst the younger generations.

How gender disparity is impacting women entering STEM fields

In order to become a professional computer engineer, or even the next Elon Musk, certain education is required. And in the STEM field, it can take much more than an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s of science in order to get the attention of major tech companies. Employers like Twitter, Google, and Apple host job fairs on a regular basis in order to get through a sea of applicants, where they can take their pick of the cream of the crop. So, what is stopping some women from pursuing their dreams? In some cases, there are realities that can be prohibitive as well as future outlooks that are very promising, such as:

  • Business Loans – Getting funding to start a business can still be difficult to come by, which is why micro loans and peer lending has been picking up a lot of steam.
  • Student Loans – While student loan debt levels are increasing, legislature may soon be on the way to provide college graduates with financial relief.
  • Scholarships – Federal and state funding may be reduced, but private funding levels may actually increase in the future.
  • Joint Ventures – Women working together by way of professional groups, religious affiliation, and higher education alumni is changing the trajectory of the future.

The fact of the matter is that higher education is expensive, and even a gifted and talented student is not guaranteed to get a full ride. More and more, prospective college students are hearing about how difficult it can be to manage student loans after graduation as employment prospects can change. Women and girls can sometimes be at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with the costs associated with college. Coincidentally, some of the above mentioned factors are extremely vital for female business owners looking for non-traditional means of business funding.

More extensive professional development and networking opportunities for women

Whether a woman receives support by way of attending a conference or she goes through her list of contacts, the reality is that there are now countless opportunities for professional and moral support. It used to be that a woman entering STEM related fields might go many, many years before she ever ran into another woman in the same career path. Today, there are professional groups for female web coders and women financiers. Thanks to the internet, finding these groups, development, and networking opportunities is as simple as typing in the right keywords.

Women in STEM have much to look forward to, including a change in the dynamics of the field itself. They are feeling less isolated, more capable of being hired for their skills and assets, and more optimistic about the future of their careers. They can set out to be the role models for future generations, much like the women that they so looked up to when they were children. Like other periods in history when the odds were stacked up against a marginalized group, women in STEM having gone from persevering to thriving.

About Carol Trehearn

carolt@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Carol Trehearn is a business and marketing specialist at Click Intelligence.

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