I had the pleasure of being a guest speaker at a Girls in STEM event held at the Arizona Science Center this past fall.  As a young woman starting out in the IT world in the 90’s, there were not many female mentors for me to turn to in the predominantly male-dominated world of IT.  At the event last fall, I was so impressed with the young women participating, their knowledge at such a young age about technology and their enthusiasm to learn.

Some of you might be asking what is STEM?  STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.  There are numerous STEM endeavors to educate and encourage learning.  A publication from the National Girls Collaborative Project states that “Girls and boys do not significantly differ in their abilities in mathematics and science, but do differ in their interest and confidence in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects.” (1, 2, 3) This difference in interest and confidence contributes to the fact women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce.  Women constitute 47% of the overall workforce; however, they only make up for 28% of the Science & Engineering workforce (1).

This disparity caused me to ask myself, “what, if anything, is my role in shifting this dynamic?”  I’ve volunteered in many capacities over the years – church, youth sports, non-profit organizations. But it wasn’t until recently that my eyes were opened to the responsibility that I had in helping to mentor and encourage young women to learn about and consider a future in a STEM field. One such endeavor is supporting the Arizona Science Center Girls in STEM program through volunteering and charitable contributions.  A publication from the Arizona Science Center quotes Leaders Up, a national organization focused on youth employment, “to achieve economic and equity goals for the next generation, we need to excite young women about STEM as early as possible. This can be through a number of ways such as encouraging a welcoming environment in STEM related activities in school, exposure to female role models who have succeeded in the field, positive mentorship and exposure to the career possibilities that science, technology, engineering and math skills can provide.”

The Atlassian Foundation was created with the vision of helping make the world better.  I’m proud to say Isos Technology has partnered with Atlassian on their Pledge 1% initiative to contribute 1% of annual profits, 1% of employee time, and 1% of company equity to the foundation.  As an employee of Isos Technology, I’m encouraged and supported with the endeavor to participate in programs like Girls in Stem.

What is your role with empowering our young women?  I implore you to take action and get involved.

  1. The State of Girls and Women in STEM. National Girls Collaborative Project
  2. Google for Education (2016). Diversity Gaps in Computer Science: Exploring the Underrepresentation of Girls, Blacks and Hispanics.
  3. Educational Research Center of America (2016). STEM Classroom to Career: Opportunities to Close the Gap.