A recent uptick in successful initiatives like Girls Who Code and all-women STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) camps point to an important trend: Young women are ready to change the face of STEM fields.
In 2017, Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit group that works to inspire girls to pursue their passion for coding and computer science, reported that the number of its graduates who pursued degrees in STEM fields was 15 times the national average, while its black and Latina alumni are choosing to study computer science and other STEM-related fields at 16 times the national average.
A perfect storm for hiring women in STEM
Women in STEM tend to be naturally motivated to help others. Fifty-nine percent of them are drawn to altruistic work, according to Pew Research Center, while just 31 percent of men in STEM are motivated by the social good they’re doing. More than ever before, many consumers focus on what a company stands for more than its products or services. So having socially minded, altruistic people in your company can lead to more socially responsible products and services, and more admiring customers.
So how can you ensure your company is able to recruit the brightest among the ever-growing group of women in STEM?
1. Offer strong work-life balance options.
Women carry most of the responsibility when it comes to balancing work and family life; they also take on more domestic duties, like child and elderly care. In fact, 78 percent of them identify work-life balance as a top challenge when starting a new job. At JVZoo, employees are allowed to work remotely and are encouraged to take time off to spend with their families. With this policy, we’ve attracted more women to join the team, making the male to female ratio 50-to-50.
Allowing your employees some flexibility when it comes to working remotely or taking time off can help with recruiting women, especially those who have families or other responsibilities outside of work. This concept has proven to be effective, too — when Australian company Telstra offered its employees flexible working hours, it saw more women accepting offers (a jump from 37 percent to 50 percent), with 30 percent of women applying specifically because of the flexibility perk.
2. Think beyond salary.
There’s a very real pay gap between women and men in STEM fields. In fact, as women gain experience and pursue higher-level jobs, the pay gap actually widens. While your business can (and should) fight this ongoing battle for equal pay, investing in an employee through salary alone doesn’t cut it.
Consider the importance of maternity leave, for example. While companies are generally required by law to provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, employees can’t always take an extended period of unpaid leave. If your company offers paid maternity leave, it sends the message to potential employees that your business values parent-child bonding as well as a healthy work-life balance. Plus, providing paid maternity leave can be beneficial to long-term productivity.
3. Take action to inspire.
Make it clear through actions that you are invested in supporting women in STEM in your workplace, as well as in your community. Women in STEM are likely to experience discrimination in their workplace (in fact, a whopping 50 percent say they have personally experienced discrimination at work, according to Pew Research Center), but you can show potential employees that you take this issue seriously by taking concrete steps to address and correct discrimination in your business.
This could be as simple as rewriting job descriptions that use too many traditionally masculine words or changing the way you give promotions. Google, for instance, realized that not as many women were receiving promotions because the system the company had in place required employees to nominate themselves — something not many women (even those who were deserving of the praise) were willing to do.
Prioritizing a healthy work-life balance, thinking beyond salary, and taking action to inspire future STEM leaders will not only make your workplace a welcoming environment, but it will also keep the women-in-STEM movement thriving for generations to come.