It’s common knowledge that women are underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) fields globally. This is primarily caused by the leaky pipeline phenomenon. As three young professional women in varying STEM fields, we feel it’s important to share our perspective on the challenges faced by women throughout their STEM journey.
Starting the Journey:
The leaky pipeline phenomenon describes how women become underrepresented in STEM fields over time. This phenomenon affects students from the start of their education up until they start their career. At each educational milestone, a considerable proportion of females lose interest in STEM causing the leaks in the pipeline.
Throughout our education, some factors that allowed us to become interested and stay engaged in STEM were extracurricular STEM-related activities, passionate teachers/professors and mentorship opportunities ranging from parents to industry professionals. Despite the hurdles faced along the way, pursuing STEM can lead to a rewarding career.
Entering the Workforce:
There is often a lot of anxiety associated with finding a job and starting a career after obtaining your qualifications. Competition for positions, lack of experience, finding the “perfect” job can cause a storm of emotions for young professionals entering a work environment. As women in male-dominated STEM fields, there are additional challenges associated with starting your career including lack of female role models, gender inequality, and lack of confidence.
We feel the best way to address these challenges is by creating a network of women and allies within your STEM community and/or workplace, who can support and guide you. Becoming involved in your local women in STEM community can provide multiple opportunities to grow your confidence, make new connections, allows you to educate, influence and learn from others.
Continuing the Path of Success:
New challenges will arise as women progress through their STEM fields from advancing their careers to going on parental leave. By acknowledging these challenges, we can better prepare for the road ahead. Starting the first Women in STEM committee of our office and becoming involved in a greater STEM network has expanded our perspective and increased our confidence. We hope this involvement will continue to progress our careers.
As women in STEM, we feel a responsibility to educate those around us about the leaky pipeline effect. Unbeknownst to us, we have witnessed this phenomenon firsthand throughout our schooling and our careers, and it is important that we pave a path of success for those to follow.
The future of women in STEM not only depends on educating and instilling confidence in the next generation but also maintaining a strong presence and striving for leadership roles in STEM fields. Make connections everywhere you go, at school, in the office, at the grocery store. You never know who you’ll inspire.
Emily Miszk, Komal Bharti and Krista Flachs make up the women in STEM committee at Hatch Ltd Niagara Falls. Hatch is a global multidisciplinary engineering and development consulting company that strives for positive change. Emily is a recent applied science graduate from Queen’s University and currently works as a Geotechnical Engineer in Training. Komal is an Electrical Engineering Technology graduate from Niagara College and currently works as a Junior Electrical Designer for Hatch. Krista has obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry as well as a diploma in Chemical Engineering Technology and presently works as a Laboratory Technician.
This article originally appeared in Business Link Niagara.