In recognizing women’s history month, I commend the women who have sought out progress, whose inventions have changed and inspired the world. Women like Marie Curie, Grace Hopper, Mae Jemison and Emmy Noether are demonstrative of the vital contributions women have had on the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Women have had some great impact on areas of STEM, but it is important to also recognize that we as a company, a country, and as a world community must do better to encourage women to pursue educations and careers in STEM fields.
There is no doubt in my mind that a strong STEM workforce is crucial to ensuring innovation and progress in today’s technology driven world. In the US Women represent 48% of the workforce, but only 24% of STEM careers (U.S. Department of Commerce). This underrepresentation of women in areas of STEM is an important contributor to the deficit of female inventors. Women are responsible for roughly 12% of all US patents between 1975 and 2002 (National Women’s Business Council).
I am personally an ardent supporter of Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), an organization focused on opening young women’s minds to the power of math and science, because it is unacceptable that we are not maximizing such a large percentage of the available brain power.
Creating a more balanced STEM workforce must be a priority. By increasing the demand for STEM professionals and encouraging young women to pursue these areas in education we could vastly increase the intellectual capital that is devoted to these vital areas of innovation.
This would go a long way to boosting the invention output of women in these areas, aiding scientific progress, increasing our global competitiveness, and paving the way to a brighter future.