February 11 is National Women & Girls in Science Day.
In the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, despite the growing demand for skilled professionals in the technological landscape, a significant gender gap persists in STEM fields.
Despite progress in higher education, women remain underrepresented, accounting for only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of computer science and informatics graduates.
The disparity is evident at all levels of STEM disciplines worldwide, highlighting the need to address barriers preventing women from entering and thriving in these fields.
increase the participation of women in STEM fields:
🔑Through mentorship programs and hands-on learning experiences, encourage girls to pursue STEM education and careers.
🔑Promote a culture of inclusivity and diversity within STEM workplaces and classrooms to create a more welcoming environment for women.
🔑Provide resources and support for women, such as networking opportunities and professional development programs.
🔑Address and tackle the unconscious biases that may discourage women from pursuing STEM careers.
🔑Offer family-friendly policies, including flexible working hours, parental leave, and affordable childcare, to help support the needs of working mothers.
🔑Amplify the visibility of female role models in STEM fields to show girls and young women that they can succeed in these fields.
🔑Encourage and support initiatives that can lead to the implementation of these policies and strategies in educational institutions, organizations and the government.
We asked Emily a few questions about her experience being a Woman in Science in the Mining Industry.
1. WHAT LED YOU TO PURSUE AN EDUCATION IN THE STEM FIELD?
Growing up, I was interested in many subjects and so for college, I looked into biochemistry with the hopes of going to dental school afterward, and secondary education emphasizing in music and/or foreign languages. Those interests were very different, so I researched similar careers I could pursue with only a bachelor’s degree, and checked out the financial prospects for each option.
As a first-generation college student, I was determined to go for the option that would personally challenge me most. I applied for biomedical engineering programs, which would allow me to either pursue a doctor of dental surgery immediately after graduating, or enter the workforce directly and pursue a DDS later in life. I’m glad I made that decision because going to West Virginia University for biomedical engineering introduced me to mining engineering and I ended up finishing a degree in that and today work in the industry.
2. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MINING?
The main reasons I switched to mining engineering were the opportunities for a mixture of field and office work environments, and the chance to live and travel nearly anywhere.
In my job search after college, I focused on opportunities surrounding Charlotte, North Carolina. I loved the convenience and entertainment options near the city, while also being close to the natural beauty of lakes, mountains and beaches. Getting a degree in STEM truly allowed me to be selective of where I would call home.
My current position as a junior mining engineer at Piedmont Lithium offers me great balance. Most days, I work in the office, but I can still spend time in the field. In just eight months, I’ve traveled for work to four places I had never been before – Tennessee, Arizona, Nevada and Quebec, Canada. Each trip offered a great learning experience and fed my adventurous spirit.
3. WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT A FUTURE IN A STEM FIELD?
You will likely face adversity or opposition while pursuing a future in STEM, whether from family, friends, classmates, teachers, coworkers or complete strangers. Some may assume you do not belong in the field due to outdated gender stereotypes, but do not let that cloud your confidence!
Know that you are good enough and capable of doing what you set your mind to. Don’t be afraid to move on from places that have an uncomfortable workplace or do not align with your career development goals. Also, build a support group in your field that you can relate to and lean on to overcome challenges.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are key topics in STEM right now. As the science-based community grows more welcoming to women, I think it’s a great time to consider a future in these fields.
Are you looking to hire women like Emily? Or are you a woman in science looking at a career in Mining? MRC can help. Contact us for more information.