Women in STEM | Quality Digest

Representation matters. When people learn about the achievements of people with whom they identify, they believe they can achieve, too. Role models and mentors also can help people from underrepresented groups with the skills and support they need to overcome barriers to becoming a STEM professional.  

While the data are encouraging, America needs still more diversity in STEM fields. As a scientist and leader of technical organizations, I’ve seen the positive effect that diversity and representation have on science. Work groups with more diversity are more creative. Their solutions to technical and other problems are more innovative.

During my career, I have seen that many women in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) have had similar experiences as they advanced in education and at work: A paucity of women in STEM has meant that some of our most impactful advocates and mentors have been people different from us.

In response to Secretary Raimondo’s call for more women in the semiconductor workforce, women who are STEM professionals within the U.S. Department of Commerce have committed to act.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo delivers a speech at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

On March 18, 2024, I participated in the launch of the Women in STEM Ambassador Program. These ambassadors will participate in programs at schools, colleges, and conferences to raise awareness about opportunities for women in the semiconductor industry, and inspire interest in engineering and related STEM fields. As an ambassador, I’m proud to be a part of this group and will continue to use my role as NIST director to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.

Published March 21, 2024, here, and republished by NIST.

منبع: https://www.qualitydigest.com/inside/operations-article/women-stem-041624.html

CHIPS for America, which is being implemented by NIST, is encouraging workforce strategies to ensure a highly skilled, diverse workforce to meet the program’s goal of establishing a semiconductor manufacturing and research and development base in the United States. And women are a big part of this equation.

NIST director Laurie Locascio speaks at the virtual Women in STEM Ambassadors Kickoff, March 18, 2024.

This is changing as women increasingly enter STEM fields. According to the National Science Foundation, the STEM workforce increased by 20% in the decade ending in 2021. While women haven’t yet achieved parity with men in STEM fields, the number of women entering STEM fields increased faster (by 31%) than the number of men entering STEM (up 15%). Today more than ever, women can look around their labs and offices and see younger versions of themselves conducting experiments, analyzing data and designs, writing code and equations, and running algorithms.

A 2002 photo of then-NIST biomedical engineer Laurie Locascio placing a water sample on a highly sensitive, inexpensive “lab-on-a-chip” that within seconds provides warning of even trace amounts of toxic chemicals in water.

By mentoring, showing, and encouraging representation, you can advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion. A study by the University of Massachusetts showed that just four meetings between female mentors and female engineering students increased students’ feelings of belonging, confidence, and motivation, and increased their ambitions to pursue a postgraduate engineering degree.

To fill this gap, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has called for the nation to triple the number of graduates in semiconductor-related fields, including engineering. To do that, we must bring more women and people of color into the workforce. Currently, women represent just 10%–25% of the semiconductor industry, and historically underrepresented groups make up only 20%.

This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” Will you join me as an advocate for change?

You can also contribute to safe, inclusive spaces with your empathy and leadership. Use your position in your community and at your job to help other voices be heard. Stand up to inequalities when you see them. Inspire change, inspire others to change, and be part of creating a more diverse and equitable future for all.

Further, if we don’t recruit more people who have been underrepresented in STEM, some fields will face a potentially devastating shortfall in degree holders. For example, when you map the projected growth of the U.S. semiconductor sector with the current rate at which technical degrees are granted, the industry may have roughly 67,000 unfilled jobs at the end of the decade.

Growing up as a scientist, I didn’t see role models who looked like me. I grew up in a small town where my father was a physicist—and my role model.  He nurtured me to be a scientist, just like him. I’m so grateful he didn’t have different expectations for my brothers and me. He always told me that I could be anything that I wanted. Today, I am a Ph.D. scientist, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, and the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). All of these are professional roles that fulfill me and in which I’m incredibly honored to serve.

The Women in STEM Ambassador Program, along with CHIPS for America workforce programs, are about much more than addressing a shortage of skilled professionals. Such programs help make our economy work for everyone by expanding access to good jobs that include women, people of color, veterans, persons with disabilities, and rural populations.