Women and technology: a career in business?
Two factors that will help to encourage more women to study sciences and technology
My journey has been both exciting and challenging, with many inspirational events and influences that have helped shape my career. High among these are my parents who encouraged me to follow my interest in science, considering education to be their greatest gift to me. This legacy exposed me to further sources of inspiration mainly from my female peers of the same generation.
It is these early influences that helped encourage me to study physics, without them I’m not sure that I would be where I am today. Of course, I had doubts about my subject choice as often times I would be the only female in my senior level classes, but I am glad that I persisted. A degree in physics has provided me with the tools to think critically and problem solve, which are skills I have applied with great success to the multiple industries and positions I have held over the past 25 years. Careers are far more dynamic than they were even a generation ago and as we find ourselves changing companies and industries vs. the traditional path of “climbing the ladder” vertically, the so-called transferable skills, such as problem solving, become critical. I firmly believe that my science degree has opened more doors for me, giving me opportunities in both technology and business that would otherwise have been closed. Having a technical background, even in the business side of the technology industry, has been a great advantage and a great career fit for me. Over the years, I can honestly say that my gender has never been a problem in my industry choices. I would say however that age was more of an issue in terms of credibility.
Today it is good to see more women with a science background in management positions globally, which is indeed a big change from my early working experience, but there is way more potential for improvement. The question today is how can we encourage more women to study sciences and technology? I believe there are two factors that will help:
1) Girls need to be exposed at high-school to the wide range of career opportunities available to them, both in the traditional and non-traditional roles. This needs to be done at a time when they are making the subject choices that will fit their future career aspirations. If you want a career in management, then a degree in management is not the only path; and a technical degree will not necessarily confine you to the lab.
2) Those of us who have taken the journey already should help educate and inspire young girls to follow suit. It is our responsibility, through outreach and mentoring programs, to highlight and globally promote the successes of women in key positions with a technical background.
It is my belief that with encouragement in the early years, through the greater visibility of female role models in diverse positions and careers, that the number of girls pursuing physics, engineering and other sciences will increase.
I share more thoughts on how my science background has helped me in the corporate world in the video below…