It’s no secret that science, technology, engineering, and math — collectively called STEM — are dominated by men. According to research, women represent a stunningly low 27% of STEM professionals. There are many intersecting issues that contribute to this problem, but it’s clear that something must change. Women who want to break into these fields can take control of their careers and attract the top recruiters by following these five tips from NMC Coaching.
1. Work on Improving Your Confidence
Unfortunately, the lack of women in STEM may be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Because there are so few women, women feel unwelcome, and they don’t pursue careers that they would otherwise be interested in. Those who do pursue STEM careers may be stymied by a lack of confidence that costs them opportunities. Women should work on boosting their professional confidence by eliminating negative self-talk, practicing professional presentation, and setting clear goals.
2. Get a Mentor Who Can Offer Career Guidance
One of the greatest assets a woman in STEM can have is a dedicated mentor. Your mentor should invest in you and advocate for you, and if you haven’t connected with this person yet, it’s time to find them. You can find a mentor through networking opportunities, online platforms, and professional conferences. If you can find another woman in STEM to mentor you, this may be particularly advantageous to helping you achieve your goals.
3. Start Your Own STEM Business
Even if you have all the right qualifications, STEM is a hard field to break into. You may realize that you’re tired of endless job searching, and instead, you want to start your own business. In addition to the lucrative potential that this path has, it’s a great way to build your resume and create your own opportunities — if another company won’t hire you, hire yourself. This will demonstrate ambition and drive that will attract recruiters if you return to the job market.
4. Craft an Expert-Level Business Plan
If you do choose to go the entrepreneurial route, it’s important that you’re prepared for the challenges of owning a business. Your first few months will likely be a learning experience, but you can avoid many common mistakes by crafting a detailed business plan. In addition to an overview of your financial expectations, your business plan should include its structure, marketing strategy, and sources of funding.
5. Enroll in a Professional Development Class
Sometimes you simply need to sharpen your skills in order to gain an edge in the STEM job market. A professional development course is a great way to do so, and you can choose a class that’s aligned with your skills. For example, if you’re naturally a leader, a SCRUM class will give you more tools to apply these skills in the STEM workplace. Learn about advanced courses that can provide the necessary curriculum to beef up your abilities. Courses should be through an accredited school that provides a certificate of completion.
Women Can Get Ahead in the STEM Job Market
Searching for a job is an incredibly stressful experience, and it’s even more stressful when your gender seems to be working against you. Rather than be discouraged, though, you can take steps to build your resume, become a more competitive candidate, and attract attention from recruiters. In addition to a professional development course, you can build experience by starting your own business and enlisting help from a mentor.