I raised it to my shoulder, set my aim, and swung with all the might a twelve-year-old girl could muster. The hammer struck the wall, but the only evidence of its contact was a resounding boom. I hadn’t budged it an inch.
A boy in his late teens had been watching. He sauntered over, with a half-smile and southern drawl, saying, “Let me take care of that for you.”
As he reached for the sledgehammer, I stepped back and swung as hard as I could. Bam! A hole appeared in the wall, debris fell to the floor. I turned to him, smiled, and said, “Thanks, but I’ve got it.”
While the US workforce has made great strides when it comes to gender diversity, not all industries are equally diverse. In sectors like education and healthcare, it's socially acceptable for women to make up the majority of the field; historically, professions like teaching and nursing were seen as nurturing, acceptable roles for women outside the home (at least until marriage).
Times, however, are changing—as are career options. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have a multitude of growing applications, and yet, their corresponding industries are still largely considered a boy’s only club. The STEM club is only set to grow in numbers, as its “faster than average” growth projects nearly 600,000 new jobs by 2026.
Ladies, if you’re listening, it’s time to go out there and grab your STEM sledgehammer. The future is coming, and you can do it yourself.
One explanation may be that girls aren’t encouraged to pursue STEM the same way that boys are. In educational and home settings, adults reinforce the concept that boys have a better grasp of math and spatial skills, while girls are naturally better when it comes to verbal skills.
Yes, it’s true, there are plenty of jokes and memes out there about how much women talk, and how much they talk to each other. But the question is, are children born with inherent spatial and communication skills, or are they fostered by society based on our gender?
Studies show high-performing boys and girls achieve similar scores in STEM subjects, so it’s entirely reasonable to say anyone can learn STEM skills or become an effective communicator if they’re in an encouraging and empowering environment.
- The International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals’ mission is “To achieve the consistent representation of women and minorities in the cybersecurity industry through programs designed to foster recruitment, inclusion and retention.” ICMCP offers multiple programs, including Cyber Security Scholarships, the Mutual Match Mentor/Protégée Program, Networking Opportunities, and Technical Training Workshops. Their initiatives are making the tech industry more inclusive for women and other minorities.
- The National Center for Women and Information Technology is a “national non-profit focused on women's participation in computing” and they work to help organizations “recruit, retain, and advance” women in tech fields. They have formed alliances with national organizations, including workforce and education connections, while providing resources and programs to encourage and support women in tech.
- The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy for Military Spouses was created as a solution to reduce the percentage of unemployed and underemployed military spouses. The inaugural class began in September, and promises participating spouses valued technology skills that can be translated into tech jobs.
- The Society of Military Spouses in STEM advocates for military spouses in STEM careers by building networks, mentoring, increasing jobs, internships, education, and scholarship opportunities.
STEM is still a male-dominated field, so you may be wary about entering it, but don’t worry. Just grab your sledgehammer, remind yourself that you’ve got this, and swing with all your might!
Story by Amanda Marksmeier