As STEM industries continue to grow, so will their significance and power to drive societal progress. If women continue to make up just 29% of this workforce, the pace at which gender equality can be achieved globally will inevitably slow. But this doesn’t have to be the future. By pursuing a career in any of the STEM industries, there stands the potential to reshape the perception of women as uninterested in technical careers, and to rewrite the overarching narrative of a society driven by masculine progress.
Driving this change should be the promotion of confidence in girls and young women who are studying these subjects. Colleen Smith, vice president and general manager of OpenEdge at Progress (https://www.progress.com/openedge), argues that, “confidence is the ultimate differentiator between women who fully pursue a career in STEM and those who remove themselves from the STEM pipeline.” One organization that has sought to address this issue is the Girl Scouts, who have begun a series of STEM programs. Results from these programs have found that girls who attend have an 82% confidence increase in science classes and a 61% increase in math. Programs like this are illustrating to women everywhere that pursuing an education, and ultimately, a career in the STEM space is well within their capabilities.
One of the Spark of Hope Foundation’s students who embodies the change in how women are perceived in the STEM space is Kimberly Lopez. Currently working toward qualifying as a doctor in Nicaragua, the scholarship provided to her by the Spark of Hope Foundation and her own innate strength of character provide her with the opportunity to serve as an example to women everywhere. Organizations working with talented individuals like Lopez have the power to limit the damaging effects that come from the inherent lack of confidence that women have been forced to have in STEM industries.