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STEMming the losses: Closing the tech industry's gender gap

Georgette Tan, group head, Communications, Asia Pacific, MasterCard | March 4, 2015
While women overall are more likely to receive an education, the number of women entering STEM has remained stagnant despite a STEM labour shortage in Asia Pacific and global growth in demand for STEM-related jobs.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

March 8th marked International Women's Day (IWD) — a day to recognize the achievements of women and the role they play as household decision-makers, business owners and leaders. We are simultaneously reminded how far we need to go to bridge the professional equality gap for women.

MasterCard's latest research on women's advancement shows that while more women across the Asia Pacific region increasingly have the knowledge, skills and capabilities required, the opportunity for them to actively participate in the corporate sector as business leaders and owners, and in politics as leaders and decision makers is much less readily available.

While women overall are more likely to receive an education, they are still lagging behind in entering careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, commonly known as "STEM."

The number of women entering STEM has remained stagnant, despite a STEM labour shortage in Asia Pacific and global growth in demand for STEM-related jobs. Closing the gender gap — whether it is in STEM or leadership positions across business and politics — should be a priority.

Careers in the field of STEM afford women the opportunity to be financially self-sufficient, determine their own career fates, and positively impact the world through their leadership and creativity.

And for businesses, it makes cents (pun intended) on many levels.

Study after study shows how public and private sector companies — and their bottom lines — benefit from having more women in leadership. In fact, companies with more women in leadership outperform those who do not.

In a highly competitive global market, companies are beginning to understand why integrating talented women into their leadership structure is imperative for sustainable economic growth and innovation in both developed and developing markets. STEM-related companies are no exception.

However, to even increase the number of women leading STEM-affiliated companies, we must first increase overall female participation in the field.

This begs the question: how do we get more women into STEM careersand help ensure theybecome innovators, business leaders, and public servants?

Let's go back to the beginning. First, we need to engage female students at a young age.

As a society, we need to educate them on their career potential -- and then spark imagination by opening them up tothe world of science and mathematics. MasterCard partners with great organisations such as Singapore Committee for UN Womento raise awareness and visibility of STEM amongst 10 to 15 year-old girls in Singapore and are doing the same globally with our Girls4Tech campaign. And governments across the globe have launched similar initiatives; while global companies like IBM, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft are also partnering to affect change in the STEM field.

 

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