We are living the age of smart sourcing and outsourcing without realizing we are giving away our independence and sustainability. AI is not our threat. We are if we cannot sustain our diverse intelligence.
~ Maria Lehtman
Did you grow up with computers as a child mesmerized by the fascinating marvels you could envision in the field? The world slowly realizes that unless you kindle the STEM fire in children, boys and girls likewise – we keep lacking these skills in both resources and organizational diversity going forward. According to Women in Computer Science (WiCS), a majority of computer science positions will be pursued and filled up by men although jobs are estimated to grow in the field from 15 percent to 20 percent by 2020. How can you address STEM skills in leadership positions?
Motivation stems from education
“All students need challenges and hard fun that inspires them to dig deeper and construct bid ideas.” ~ WE are Teachers
Consider this: one of the reasons I decided to join telecommunications field 20 years ago was my upbringing. I grew up with parents who encouraged me in fine arts and technology hobbies.
The dilemma of having more women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a complicated one because we cannot reverse time to offset past decisions made in education. Consider this: one of the reasons I decided to join telecommunications field 20 years ago was my upbringing. I grew up with parents who encouraged me in fine arts and technology hobbies. Therefore I was motivated in both areas and technology, and artistic career were both appealing to me. Whatever you do today in schools, at home with your children, in outreach programs, in hiring new staff, and setting an example as a leader, remember that your attitude towards diversity, creativity, and encouragement towards STEM disciplines is fundamental. To create change in the people transformation be the change agent.
How to encourage stem disciplines in job roles
Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.
~ Rosalind Franklin
According to ICF individual STEM, professional profiles tend to demonstrate cognitive rather than interpersonal strengths. It does not mean they cannot make very effective and sympathetic leaders. In the end, strength is in a versatile team. Here are a few areas to consider when developing STEM skills in your organization:
- Research and learn to understand the STEM benefits of extrovert, introvert and hybrid personality traits and leadership styles. One of the essential skill of a hybrid (a personality that can be either or depending on the circumstance) or an introvert leader is empathy. STEM leader’s emotional intelligence might not be apparent to an extrovert leader, but it is quite detectable if you work closely with your peers skilled in the disciplines. I have discussed EI with consultants after, e.g., employee 360° reviews and found the conclusions to be entirely accurate. The difference is how you cultivate them to management positions vs. extrovert personalities.
- Avoid getting into groupthink when results are dropping, or there is a major organizational transition. Especially in western companies, I tend to observe that transformation and cataclysm drive people to subconsciously favor extrovert leadership over analytical and more introvert personalities. A successful organization is always a mix of traits and skills, never one or the other. People who are introverts often possess the disciplines and skills critical to your company’s strategic planning.
- Set the right attributes for STEM skills in your job roles. The job adverts today are short of becoming novels. While hiring is expensive and you may eventually find the right person with a 10-page job description – the most important aspect is what traits you are looking for. You are not likely to find STEM skills unless you specifically describe them.
- On-the-job career development. Ensure that you identify, train and develop specific career paths for STEM skills. If you do not – employees are most likely to look for suitable challenges outside the organization. STEM disciplined employees are too highly qualified to drop into administrator modes when jobs in scope are outsourced or smart sourced to another country. Always create a career path for transversal skillsets in all teams.
- Develop an organizational atmosphere with positive drive and rewards. Personally, I find that STEM-oriented millennials appreciate the following criteria: good leadership, productive organizational development, and self/team-achievement rewards. Most of all, never underestimate the importance of feedback. No one evolves on his or her own – we develop and succeed as transversal digital and human tribes and communities.
- Create coaching programs and structured learning programs for STEM leadership. Everyone in the organization needs development. Any potential and existing leader to be groomed for higher positions benefits from coaching or mentoring. What we tend to forget is that there are people who need it, want it but do not dare ask for it.
Now and then I have heard a manager say: “If someone is keen to develop themselves they should ask for training, I have never said no.” Let me underline that leadership teams need to identify the organizational needs and build a structure around positive progress and development for individuals. Once that is in place, and you have shared feedback, made development plans, and that still does not bring a motivated outcome – then either party should look into the mirror.
Why would you seek leadership roles in stem fields
Science reveals that all life on earth is one.
~ Neil deGrasse Tyson
Backtracking my early career years and why I continued in the technology field instead of art and travel industry:
I considered global telecommunications as a good long-term investment for my career path because it gave access to an international business network, presented me with complex challenges to sustain on-the-job development, provided insight into future technology areas, and gave a steady income. My first day at the job my new colleague said: “Welcome to the toughest job you’ve had so far, you’ll never regret it!” I didn’t.
I warmly recommend any of the STEM areas to any woman wanting to expand their expertise. There are many exciting discoveries in sciences today. The theories presented in Sci-Fi books I have read all my life are finally emerging in different fields – changing the way our children and we view the world. New technologies require integrity, team working skills, adaptiveness, focus, structure, future orientation – and yet, a very powerful ability to stay present in what our customers, colleagues, employees, and partners need for joint success.
It was an excellent decision looking at the current state of the world and challenges ahead. There were years when I longed for fine arts, but I would have never changed my prior dreams to the experiences I gained in international management and leadership positions.
I never left fine arts as such – they were always in my genes and allowed me to observe the world from different perspectives. Today my art is developing hand-in-hand with digital technologies. Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to compete in choir competitions, participate in recordings, run art displays, write and publish books, blogs, and articles, create digital art, etc. My authentic path merged into who I was.
What comes to millennial and digital native generations – never underestimate the lure of technology. The younger the generation, the more critical it is that your tools for day-to-day working represent what a digitally advanced age looks for. It is one of the ways to keep your organization proactive, the critical skills in-house and people developing and representing your future, a prosperous customer journey.
“Do you think you’re sitting still right now?
You’re on a planet orbiting a star at 30km/s. That star is orbiting the center of a galaxy at 350km/s. That galaxy is moving through the universe at a rate of 600km/s. Since you started reading this, you have traveled about 3’000km (1’863 miles).”
(Someone might say: Depending on where you are and when…)
Communications ACM: Broadening the Path for Women in STEM ǀ https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2018/8/229774-broadening-the-path-for-women-in-stem/fulltext
Women in Computer Science ǀ https://tuftswics.github.io/index.html
Cultivating Effective STEM Leaders: Challenges and Opportunities ǀ https://www.icf.com/
Wikipedia: Millennials ǀ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials
Wikipedia: Digital native ǀ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native
Business News Daily: 3 Ways to Advance Women in Tech ǀ https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10598-advance-women-in-stem.html
AstroSociety.org: How Fast Are You Moving When You Are Sitting Still? ǀ https://astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/71/howfast.html