This month, we’re celebrating women – specifically, women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Women have made tremendous strides in these disciplines: They’re CEOs, CTOs, academic department heads, innovators, and much more. They’re filling positions that not so long ago were unattainable. They’re bolstering productivity and enriching experiences in offices, labs, and classrooms. They’re fulfilling their ambitions.
But stereotypes persist, and women must still grapple to be considered for the most prestigious positions in the workforce. Such stereotypes must be laid to rest.
At Caktus, we believe that everyone can play an active role in continuing to bend the trend – in helping attain equitable gender representation in our industry, tech, and in the other STEM disciplines. Let’s examine three initiatives that all of us can advance each day.
1. Reject Stereotypes
Stereotypes are born of oversimplified perspectives, prejudiced attitudes, a general dumbing down of reality – nothing any one of us wants any part of. Be proactive in countering stereotypes. When you hear someone categorically question a woman’s qualifications, you should question them, diplomatically, right back. Explore the source of their view. Chances are, it’s ill-founded and unsustainable.
Celebrate uniqueness. Champion a diversity of perspectives in the workplace. Elevating women’s influence in STEM work environments does not come at the expense of men. It’s simply a matter of inclusiveness. Fresh perspectives feed creative energy, which fuels heightened productivity. A diverse team is greater than the sum of its parts.
2. Encourage Empowerment
Caktus encourages opportunities for everyone in our organization to have a forum. We encourage initiatives in the workplace that allow every voice to be heard, for everyone to more fully participate and grow. We encourage you to help lay your own foundation for networks of individuals who empower one another.
And encourage your workmates to learn more about the women who’ve come before them. Great sources of information are available – the Forbes Power Women list, for example, which highlights 20 women who span the tech sector in a range of C-suite roles. From IBM CEO Ginni Rometty to Kirsten Green, founder of Forerunner Ventures, women are ever-more frequently breaking glass ceilings and effecting profound change. Role models abound.
There are so many ways to encourage empowerment. And remember: Advancing women’s influence in the workplace isn’t a zero-sum game. Everyone benefits when every one flourishes.
3. Mentor the Next Generation
Be a mentor. Help show the way. Obviously, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve in your own professional development; share that knowledge by mentoring tomorrow’s leaders. Share your technical expertise, business acumen, and management skills, and share the spirit of championing inclusiveness.
There are numerous organizations that provide opportunities for professional women to network, advance their careers, and, ultimately, take a more active role in mentorship. Caktus has been involved with a number of these. Check out the following:
- PyLadies: An international mentorship program focused on helping more women become leaders in the Python open-source community through outreach, education, conferences, events, and social gatherings.
- Django Girls: A nonprofit organization that empowers women to organize free, one-day programming workshops where 30-60 women build applications using HTML, CSS, Python, and Django.
- Durham Women in Tech: Seeks to create a safe space for women in any role at tech firms to share challenges and solutions, as well as help tech companies to improve recruitment and retention for women.
Local chapters of these and similar organizations are situated across the country, some globally.
We at Caktus believe that all of our team members, female and male, have the opportunity each day to promote gender equality in our workplace. We’d love to hear about how your organization empowers and advocates for women. If you'd like to join our team or are interested in getting involved with our initiatives, let’s get in touch!