Another research study in that same journal issue found that having women college professors positively affected female students’ attitudes about continuing a STEM career path.
I didn’t need to read an academic journal to know that. I see it at work and when I attend those networking events. Women, more than men, in my experience, look around at a workplace where they are outnumbered and question whether they even belong there.
That is why women thriving in technical-career fields, especially those of us who have attained leadership positions, must dedicate more time to “lean in,” as Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg has been advocating.
Arguably the most influential woman in technology this year, Sandberg and her best-selling book have stirred candid discussions and important debates about gender in the workplace. This public conversation is possible only because of her willingness to be visible.
The educational system — teachers, colleges, STEM programs — will continue doing the job preparing women and men to solve our world’s toughest technical challenges. What must increase is the participation, visibility and outreach of women who have made it.
We should be the ones inspiring and socializing girls into science and math fields.
We might be busy trying to balance our own successful career schedules. But we must make it a priority to be out there speaking to young women engineers and scientists, consistently encouraging them to stick with it.
This means joining technical affiliate organizations, networking with other technologists outside our own companies and actively seeking opportunities to inspire young people. We must choose to be seen — and heard.
When women hear and see other women in technology, they will know not just what to wear and how to keep their hair. They will know how to pursue their calling as scientists and engineers in men-dominated workplaces, and that it’s possible, and natural, to live a balanced life.
Dianne Chong is a vice president in Boeing’s advanced research and technology-development division. She wrote this for The Seattle Times.