5 STEM Industries Where Modern Women Are Making Moves
Watch out world, we've got some wildly talented women at work -- and they're fully prepared to take on the challenges of tech.
My name is Ellen Mullarkey, and I’m the Vice President of Business Development with Messina Group Staffing in Chicago. I’ve been helping to connect talented candidates with amazing opportunities in science, technology, and engineering for more than 25 years. In that time, I’ve had the incredible opportunity of meeting many, many wildly talented women. They’re here to help us define the future of STEM.
The opportunities for modern women to lead from the lab (and the construction site, and the basketball court, and the programmer’s chair) are only getting better and better: here are the top five areas where I believe you can expect excellence from lady bosses on the rise.
1. Computer Science Engineering and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earn only 18% of the computer science bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States, and make up only 20% or so of the current workforce specializing in AI and intelligence research in Silicon Valley.
However, the industry — and those numbers — are growing. The BLS reports that computer science research work will grow at a rate of 19% by 2026. Already, we’re seeing women locking in more and more leadership roles.
“A lot of people think that technical fields and especially computing are this kind of geeky thing where people go off and do these obscure mathematical formulas that have no relevance to anything,” says Daphne Killer, an AI researcher and professor at Stanford. “What we’re now seeing is that computational methods are becoming pervasive in so many professions…there are just so many ways now to have a tremendous impact on society.”
Take a look at the full interview with Daphne — and meet some more of the women who are proudly reshaping artificial intelligence — in this feature piece from Vogue, or check out the work from ladies on this list of names to know.
2. Tech Nonprofits and Social Startups
Are tech startups crafted to create joy, ease, convenience, and entertainment, or are they meant to improve the general quality of life on our earth?
According to a new report from incubator Fast Forward, The State of Diversity and Funding in the Tech Nonprofit Sector, the startups aimed at inspiring social good — also known as tech nonprofits — are led largely by female founders.
These socially-savvy STEM businesses all build some form of original software or hardware, but choose to utilize a nonprofit business model so that they can dedicate pure focus on social impact. A full 47% of the category is helmed by women! With big corporate funding coming from places like Google and BlackRock, I expect that’s just the beginning.
3. Sports Medicine, Science, and Professional Coaching
In a year where we’ve seen headlines from female athletes around the world, it seems like a no-brainer to address women in sports and exercise science. Serena Williams, Simone Biles — who set yet another record this past week — Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Elena Delle Donne…the list goes on and on.
It’s about more than amazing athletes, too — female experts in sports medicine and professional coaching are also on the rise. The Philadelphia Eagles have more female executives than any other team in the NFL, with five women on the team. Aileen Dagrosa, Tina D’Orazio, Ryan Hammon, Jen Kavanagh and Catherine Carlson comprise over half of the top advisors to the owner.
Just two seasons ago, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver declared that he would work to ensure that there was a female head coach in the NBA, and do so sooner rather than later. The LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, and Philadelphia 76ers are already on board — as of August of 2019, these teams were all part of placing a record nine women in on-court NBA coaching roles. It’s only getting better from here.
4. Digital Art, Music, and Media
The next generation of talent is starting small — the Girl Scouts have recently updated their “fun with purpose” curriculum to include 23 brand new STEM and outdoor badges to set young girls up for a successful future.
One of the program’s computer and technology-focused facets is built around Digital Art, with badges for Computer Expert, Entertainment Technology, Digital Movie Maker, and Digital Photographer.
Lucky for these little ladies, the field of opportunity is growing fast and furious. In Variety’s 2019 Report on women’s impact, the list was stacked with trailblazing women from digital studios of all kinds. Victoria Alonso, the Executive VP of Production at Marvel Studios; Spring Aspers, the President of Music at Sony Pictures Entertainment; Kristine Belson, the President of Sony Pictures Animation; and so many more! Have a look at the inspiring round-up right here.
5. Technology and Tech Startup Management
“When I started in this industry, I was usually the only woman leader in the room,” she said. “This forced me to learn quickly and to be confident and direct so I could advocate for my team and my ideas. Now I see the industry changing with more and more women leading and their voices being heard. We still have a long way to go, but I’ve been a leader and advocate in making this possible as we all go on this journey in tech together. This makes proud and hopeful for the future.”
Today, 51% of the 200 employees at Limeade are women. In the meantime, Pew reports that the share of women sitting on the boards of Fortune 500 companies has more than doubled, and that 32 women headed major firms as CEO’s as of 2017 — up from zero as recently as 1995.
Together, we rise — and the future is brighter than ever.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.