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Why Women Should Consider STEM Careers

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In recent years, we've seen a rise in women in the workforce and, more specifically, in industries that have, until the last decade, been predominantly saturated by men. It's important that women continue to break out into the workforce and male-dominated fields to keep the momentum going and ensure workplace equality, including decreasing the pay gap and workplace harassment. Keeping women at the forefront of the workforce not only ensures women continue to have a voice on important issues, but that they're well represented among their peers. For women who are looking to be part of the women's workforce movement, women thinking of starting a career may want to consider breaking into the STEM field. Here are some reasons why women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is vital for future success.


Women as Family Providers

For hundreds of years, men have been seen as the sole providers for their family. This type of thinking has kept women in the background with the expectation that they should serve as the family caretakers, rearing children and tending to the household. However, as we see a rise in single-parent households, it has become necessary for women to break out of these traditional roles and enter the workforce to provide for their children. When women secure careers in the STEM field, they'll be better equipped to provide for their family, as STEM fields have a tendency to pay better than jobs that don't require a specialized skill. In fact, STEM fields are less likely to have the wage disparity that is often common for women in the workforce, which means they'll be able to provide a comfortable living for their family.

Women Bring Diversity

Women in STEM, particularly minority women, offer diversity to the workforce which can also bring a refreshing new perspective to the table. Having a varied perspective on issues, particularly ones that pertain to women such as women's health, can ensure that the right solutions are being offered on a wider scale, which can be beneficial for the population as a whole. In addition, having a diverse workforce ensures that women have a better chance of advancement to more senior-level or board room positions, which typically have been dominated by males throughout the years.

Women offer a brighter future for our children

Female children often look to their older counterparts as role models, and when older women are seen in professional roles it may give them hope that they too can be a successful woman when they grow older. It's important that future generations understand that there are no limits to what they can accomplish and that they aren't limited to a particular industry based on their gender. Concurrently, it's also vital that young males see women in positions equal to men so that they grow up viewing women as peers no matter what industry the work in. Because such a large number of children are raised by single mothers, having a strong woman role model who's seen as someone who can provide for their family breaks down gender inequality barriers and keeps women's rights in stride with men's.

How to Secure a Career in STEM

As with finding most professional careers, securing a career in the STEM field typically begins with receiving a college education. Education should be valued regardless of which career direction you choose, but if you're particularly interested in working in one of the fields defined by STEM, you'll want to start by looking at the different programs available at the university of your choice. Your first step will likely be the discovery phase, where you talk with someone or take an aptitude test to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. From there, you should be able to narrow down your choices to a particular field of interested before moving on to the exploration phase, where you'll dig deeper into a few different options to determine the best fit. From there, you'll apply for different programs best suited to your abilities and interests and wait to be admitted to a program.

These are just a few of the benefits of working in the field of science, technology, engineering, or math. STEM fields are a lucrative way for women to provide for their families while advancing their career.

It Doesn't End with Education

It's important to note that securing a career in a STEM field doesn't begin and end with an education. You can also gain valuable knowledge and experience by completing internships in your field. These will teach you more about your field while getting your foot in the door with a potential employer should a position open up after you graduate college.

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Politics

Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.


When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.