The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in the workforce and today’s job market, as sectors like cybersecurity struggle with talent shortages. The field of STEM is more important now than ever, yet women only account for 28% of the STEM workforce. As young girls and women prepare to go back to school, and others consider career changes, we wanted to share words of advice from six security, engineering and software experts at organizations including Raytheon, AT&T Cybersecurity, Ground Labs, Code42 and D2iQ.
Anisha Patel, senior program manager, Raytheon Technologies
“Men and women both need to put an effort into welcoming more diversity into the STEM field, but I can only speak from my own experiences and a woman in cybersecurity. I was fortunate to have a family that pushed me towards a career in the technology sector, but not every girl or woman has that same influence in their education. If a woman has the passion and interest in technology, I encourage them to find mentors that support them. Mentors can be male or female— and although we don’t need a mentor to succeed, having someone in our corner to encourage and advocate for us is great fuel to continue pursuing STEM.
For any woman looking to enter STEM, I also encourage her to go where she is valued. As a student, go to networking events and look at who the recruiters and top leaders are. Do they look like you or at least champion the success of women in their organization? That will be very telling to the experience a woman may have breaking into the industry. It’s also important to always question gender stereotypes, because oftentimes, those are what get in the way of a woman feeling like she would belong.”