She believed she could, so she did STEM
This was the theme of the Tech Women Conference held at USIU-A on Friday 10th 2017. The women conference was organized by the USIU-Africa Alumni Association in collaboration with “She Goes Tech” program which invited a delegation of senior members of the Tech Women program from Silicon Valley as well as female representatives influencing careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The conference explored the learning to career journey of girls and women in STEM and their contribution to the industry as female STEM resources. More so, the event was used to encourage more women to engage in STEM careers as well as use Science and Technology to enhance their existing professions.
Here are a few lessons learned from the conference:
1.Women In STEM; It’s All In The Mind
Many women who have established careers in STEM have had to overcome the obstacles of culture and perception to pursue their dreams. Most women succumb to pressure of culture and end up changing careers. DON’T. It’s ok to be a woman, have a career and raise a family. Make a conscious decision to enroll in a career path that is male dominated and show the world what you are about.
2.It’s Ok To Fail
For many women in STEM, failure has been part of their success story. As a matter of fact, most successful entrepreneurs share their failures as part of their success story. Failure is part of the learning process. It’s ok to fail but it’s not ok not to learn from your failures. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time. Remember, insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting different results (Albert Einstein).
3.Education Is Vital
Education empowers you with the knowledge you need to develop your career and yourself. As we push for opportunities, we must equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge and skills required. Women must encourage younger women to continuously pursue education and keep reinventing themselves. Younger women must, in turn, exceed the skills and talents of the women who went before them. Use education to explore new fields and opportunities that are male dominated and make yourself marketable.
4.Women Supporting Women Is The Best Support System
Challenge each other to take up opportunities and not succumb to cultural pressures. It takes reaching out and supporting each other for the woman to be lifted in the community, country and in the world. We are competitive in nature but we are the best at collaboration. Get women who are in similar career paths who will walk with you, teach you and provide positive criticism. Learn to collaborate and build networks with other women so that you can empower each other and reach greater heights.
5.Have A Mentor
Having a woman as a role model at an early age has helped a lot of the women in STEM careers. Encouragement from mother figures, older women and peers has shown to bear fruit. Additionally, empower girls who are younger than you and begin active conversations with them. Mentor them and encourage them to mentor others.
6.Use STEM As A Resource
Understand how skills and knowledge in STEM can help you get opportunities regardless of your field of work or career. For those who do not have established careers in STEM, use it as a resource to bridge your current venture or enhance your career. Use technology to create opportunities or provide solutions in your area of expertise. Partner with professionals in STEM to boost your strengths because they too need non-STEM expertise to thrive.
Finally, I believe that it’s all about being deliberate about what you want in life. Never apologize or feel bad for being a woman. The biggest opportunity the world has given us is leveraging the space created by gender balance. Stereotypes are not a barrier but a great opportunity to show the world that we can. With the right support, young ladiescan and should take up STEM courses and build each other up in STEM careers.
This article was written by Capital Campus Contributor Maureen J. Orango.