How can we encourage more young professionals, especially women, to pursue careers in STEM fields? I believe it starts with creating and increasing awareness around the myriad opportunities that exist.
When you consider that more of our daily lives are moving into the digital world, change is inevitable, so it must be embraced. But with change comes opportunity. And with digital technology, incredible opportunities for people to create new and innovative approaches to doing things—things that five years ago were unimaginable. So we need to do more to raise awareness around this continued evolution and the opportunities it presents.
To engage more people, we need to start earlier and we need to make learning technology skills fun, interesting and relevant. Programs like Scratch, a project lead by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab, are leading the way in helping students learn at an early age how to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. And it is a free program.
Balancing the scales
The gender ratio, however, continues to be skewed both in the classroom and in the working world. That is a tougher challenge to address, but one that absolutely needs addressing. I am optimistic that organizations like Girls Who Code and the great work of the Anita Borg Institute and NCWIT are starting to move the needle in a positive direction to close the gender gap. We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful we will get there.