Chosen as an advocate for Women in STEM
Most of my life I have been the only female in the room in a male-dominated profession. No matter what obstacles I faced, I persevered and found myself at a great company called Tallan. I was honored when Ben Fischbein, a colleague of mine here at Tallan, approached me and acknowledged my achievements as a female programmer. He shared his findings about the scarcity of women in STEM while offering me the opportunity to present to the students of Conard High School about the importance of women in these fields during their Computer Science Education Week.
To open my presentation, I wanted to connect with the students about why there is a gender gap in STEM. I had asked the students what they had thought an artist looked like and I featured a picture of a painter, a musician, a male programmer and a female programmer (pictures below). Everyone’s hands went up for the first two options, but then for the third there were less hands, and then the last option there was virtually no one that raised a hand.
As I continued on with my presentation, I went through some facts that shocked most of the students such as the amount of STEM college graduates from different countries compared to the United States. China is ranked number one with 4.7 million graduates, India coming in second with 2.4 million, and the United States at number 3 with 568,000 graduates last year. Within those numbers the graduates’ male to female ratio was 50/50, but in the US the male to female ratio was approximately 70/30.
This opened up the conversation as to why this is happening in our country, which is significantly based in our culture. I talked about spatial skills that are used for problem solving and building and how that correlates to the STEM industry. Giving girls the same opportunities as boys in spatial skilled toys will open the door for girls to have opportunities in STEM related fields in the future.
Next the discussion turned to my journey into my career from the beginning as a small child into adulthood, discussing my love of art and building, and launching my career from graphic design to web design.
I later went on to give the students an exercise using Google’s home page from 1997 to see what user experience issues they recognized, and then compare it to Google today. This was an exercise to teach the students segments of my job as a user experience designer, which lead into my explanation regarding top jobs in STEM, with possibilities ranging from software developer to psychologist.
Getting a job in STEM is a realistic goal that can be attained. Tallan offers a scholarship program that is focused on providing women in STEM an opportunity to show their skills in the field for exactly this purpose, which has been provided by our Events Manager, Samantha Francis.
I learned a lot from this experience and had the opportunity to meet some promising students that asked great questions and will have a great future in the STEM industry. Thank you Tallan, Ben, and Samantha for the opportunity to teach young men and women about my experience in STEM. #WomeninSTEM