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.
We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.
The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").
To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.
These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.
However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.
This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.
The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.
As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.
SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.
Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.
Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!
Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.