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Leaders From BMW and Sky Share Advice For Clearing the Hurdles in Their STEM Career

According to Pew Research Center, the majority, 53% of STEM college degrees, were by women, which is fantastic. However,  women remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and Math. In the STEM workforce, women leave the industry twice as often as men do. 

There have been many success stories of women in STEM. For example, a female scientist from the United States developed a robot that operates on waterborne parasites that cause schistosomiasis. In addition, a woman from South Africa invented a battery-powered e-cycle that can be pedaled for up to four hours on one charge. 

Though we can use these examples as inspiration to try and follow in their footsteps, the reality is it is not that easy. Some steps need to be taken to build a successful career in tech. At a recent Women Who Future Conference here at Udacity, we learned three straightforward steps to clearing hurdles for women in tech from leaders in companies like BMW and Sky.

Without these steps, women have a much more difficult time in getting to their goals for a STEM career. Click here to listen for the entire talk. 

You Must Understand Your Market 

Shilpi Saxena Bhatt, Director of Engineering at Sky, spoke explicitly about how she did not know she was being undervalued and accepted a salary that was half of what they deserved. Shilpi gave a clear example of how she undervalued herself because she did not understand the market. It’s about understanding your craft, doing your skillset, and knowing the market. It is essential to understand what the market is paying for your role. You need to understand your skillset, invest in yourself, invest in your craft because that gives you the confidence to ask what you deserve.

Networking Is Essential For Success 

Although it is often one of the most challenging pieces of advice, it is important to network. According to Dr. Eva Peggy Best, a senior auditor at BMW Group and a Udacity customer, you don’t need to make this journey alone. Her advice was to go and find yourself a network to support you. She recommended searching for identifying networks in your field to join. This is helpful if you struggle with any job hurdles. Within those groups, you will have an opportunity to discuss the challenges you face with your peer group.

Sharpening Your Skills Is a Must

Through the conference, one of the critical things that remained a theme is that women need more support to further their careers in STEM. According to one of the speakers, an important question was asked,” How do I create that support ecosystem system that allows me to play at the same level as everybody else in the room without feeling disadvantaged?” 

According to Dr. Lamia Chaffai, the CEO of Education for Employment, the sharpening of her skillet empowered her to position herself in an environment that a man dominates. “I believe the fact that I continued learning and being sharp in my skills and my activity empowered me to position myself in an environment that is dominated by man. “And proving my technicity, my professionalism was key for my success in the field. So please be curious, and try to learn.” 

It can be challenging to overcome mental barriers when considering a career change. Even if you are committed to the idea, many things still need to be considered. It is important not to compare yourself to others or doubt your abilities. It is also important not to focus too much on the negatives, discouraging you from continuing.

Overall, despite the apparent issues around women in STEM and the lack of support they receive towards building a career, there are some things that can be done to move through hurdles towards creating a career in STEM. Click here to hear more of this fantastic event and tune in for more inspiring advice. 

Eraina Ferguson
Eraina Ferguson
Eraina Ferguson is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Udacity. Her recent monologue, Listen to Her, was read by actress Marla Gibbs and featured at the WACO Theatre’s 50in50 event. Her writing has been featured on NBC Universal, Red Tricycle, LA Parents Magazine, and the LA Times. Eraina lives in California with her husband and children.