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Tips for women and girls looking to succeed in STEM

Female electrical engineer designs lighting shows

ARTICLE SUMMARY

In this piece, we hear from Candice Arnold, vice president of marketing operations at IFS, on how we can break barriers and impact change; as well as tips for women and girls looking to succeed in stem.

IMPORTANT STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN IN RECENT YEARS TO EMPOWER PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS TO BREAK THE GLASS CEILING IN STEM.

A variety of education pathways are now available to women and girls, whether that be investing in promoting STEM subjects at school and university, or alternative education routes such as apprenticeships and bootcamps. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of women accepted to full-time STEM courses rose by over 50%.

When it comes to representation in the workplace, however, progress towards gender disparity has been slow. A recent study found that women in the UK make up less than 30% of the STEM workforce, often having to take a career break to care for others. We must also consider intersectionality – gender undoubtedly impacts the representation of women in STEM, but additional barriers exist based on race, ethnicity, sexuality and disability.

CANDICE ARNOLD, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING OPERATIONS AT IFS

Candice joined IFS two years ago from fast-growing software development company Eggplant, where she was CMO.

With decades of experience in marketing within large technology organisations including IBM and Oracle, Candice is a true example of an exceptional business woman.

She grew up in apartheid South Africa and forged her own path to get to where she is today, a testament to her ambition to excel and stand out amongst the status quo from an early age.

She is a strong believer in the importance of being an advocate for women in technology and has aimed to set an example for women hoping to enter a similar field. In 2018, she was named as one of the top ‘50 Most Influential Women in the UK Channel’ by CRN, as well as being shortlisted for its ‘Marketeer of the Year’ award.

THE ONE POSITIVE THING ABOUT GROWING UP IN APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA IS THE KEEN SENSE THAT THERE ARE NO HANDOUTS, AND THAT SMARTS AND HARD WORK ARE THE ONLY OPTION.

I forged my own path. Early on in my career, a mentor picked up on my ambition – I still call him my guardian angel – as he nominated me for a high-performance learning programme, which included attending business school. This was pivotal to my trajectory into the world of business and I have never looked back.

As the STEM skills gap continues to widen at a rapid pace, it is clear that more needs to be done to help individuals benefit from similar opportunities, at all stages of their careers. I see an array of women and girls who are passionate about STEM – and determined to make their mark in the world. With greater support, we can help them to achieve their goals and drive innovation across industries.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR WOMEN LOOKING TO SUCCEED IN STEM AND INSPIRE OTHERS TO PURSUE THESE FIELDS:

  1. Build your support network. This is extremely important within a business itself and the wider STEM industry, and definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of my role. As women navigate the career lattice, they must share their experiences, and offer advice and support at all levels. By doing so, they can help inspire those who may have held back in the past. Ensuring women in STEM are given a platform to reach internal and external audiences should be a top priority for teams moving forward.
  2. Develop your skills and expertise in a number of different ways. This could include attending conferences and workshops, taking online courses, volunteering for projects outside of your comfort zone and seeking out mentorship opportunities. By diversifying your skillset, you will be able to build your confidence, and position yourself for future opportunities and growth.
  3. Having a curious personality is a must in today’s complex business landscape – and should not be treated as simply a buzzword. Embrace technology in your everyday life. Do not build barriers to adoption, and remember that technology is designed to build success for personal and professional growth. It is also important to learn about brands and pursue avenues that interest and excite you. While experience is undoubtedly valuable, passion can make up for it if you’re willing to put in dedicated effort.
  4. Another important tip is to cultivate a growth mindset at all stages of your career, whether you’re looking to jump into your first role or return to work after a career break. This means embracing new challenges and constantly seeking ways to improve. Recognise that setbacks and obstacles are part of the journey, and use them as opportunities for development.
  5. Finally, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for what you want. Whether it’s a promotion, a new project or a flexible work arrangement, speak up and make your voice heard. This will help you to feel more comfortable and engaged in the workplace.

By taking a multifaceted approach that addresses the unique challenges faced by individuals, we can work together to create a more inclusive environment for women and girls across all generations. We should feel comfortable and excited about sharing our experiences, and in turn help to break down the barriers that have historically prevented women from succeeding in STEM fields.

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