Promoting STEM with Young Ladies

Source: Forbes, Apr 2013

Female leaders in STEM need to serve as role models for future generations of women. We must continue to set the stage for progress by highlighting and elevating deserving women in STEM, who in turn will serve as future role models. We must also continue to share our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned along the way with future leaders. In paying it forward like this, we will be helping all the women who will follow us, both in our labs and executive suites.

Women in STEM leadership roles also need to share their passion about the wonders of science and help young students to understand the real-world, tangible benefits of STEM, be it in new medicines, handheld devices, beauty, makeup, etc. I feel so lucky; every day I get to use my STEM knowledge to make perfume, anti-aging cream and lipstick for a living – what woman doesn’t love beauty products?

We also need to plant the STEM seed early with girls and build their confidence in their scientific abilities so they can enjoy and succeed in these fields. This means eliminating fear and doubt among girls, who tend to be more risk averse. Because to advance in STEM, you need to be willing to break rules and challenge the status quo. The very nature of science involves experimentation and failure.  Girls need to be okay with that – to even be mischievous! – so they’re not afraid to go big when it comes to trying something new.  If scientists, including female scientists, don’t attempt the big things, then they’ll never have the “big ideas.”

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