WEST’s 20th Anniversary / 12th Annual Awards
While celebrating 20 years of WEST, it is important to reflect on the progress women have made in STEM, and what still needs to be done to get more women representation in science, technology, engineering, and math. Women remain underrepresented in educational pathways to STEM, and we lose women in STEM at every step of the way. This is a reason WEST focuses so heavily on supporting early and mid-career women. WEST strives to have a positive impact on the persistence and success of women by providing critical tools such as a support system, mentoring, and professional development opportunities to help them overcome Imposter Syndrome, understand how they can effectively ‘take up space’, and lead without worrying about how people will react to them.
STEM fields have historically been dominated by men, and this remains to be true in the world today. Women and men score similarly on math and science tests, but a stereotype still exists that men will perform better in these subjects. Across the world, women make up less than a third of scientific research and development positions, according to Catalyst. There has been progress, but representation of women in leadership positions remains low. Women only make up 3% of CEOs and 20% of CFOs. In the United States, women make up about 35% of all students enrolled in STEM fields. However, the majority are in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and only account for 25% of Engineering and Computer Science.
The Catalyst article also mentions that women of color make up an even smaller percentage. In 2017, women of color made up 11.5% of science and engineering employees in the United States. Once women get into the workforce, they are often paid less. In 2018, women made 80.7% of men’s earnings in computer, engineering, and science occupations. Women not only need more representation in STEM fields, but deserve to be equitably compensated for their work.
These numbers are a reminder that we still have a long way to go. There are ways to improve how women are currently treated in STEM fields, and how to get more women in STEM careers. In the current state of the world, women leaders are walking a tightrope, and trying to find a balance between likability and respect. Women who achieve STEM degrees continue to face barriers when they begin their careers.
For the last 20 years, WEST has been giving women the support, encouragement, and growth they need in their careers to overcome these obstacles. The networking events we host are an opportunity for women to share their experiences and connect to build a community of resilient women. Members of this community show up for each other, and are willing to break down the barriers that have discouraged many women from pursuing a STEM career.
WEST has been supporting women in the STEM field in the Greater Boston Area for 20 years. We are honored to have grown a community of supportive and resilient women. In this coming year, we have a focus on Building Community, Resilience, and Impact. Our events throughout the year will reinforce this theme, and our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As a part of our 20th Anniversary Celebration, we will also be honoring women who have made a difference for our community. This will be our 12th Annual Awards Celebration.
We would like to acknowledge women in STEM fields who deserve recognition for the outstanding work they do. This year we will be honoring those who have made a difference in this community, and made a difference for women. Getting women into leadership positions is one thing, but it is also essential for women to support others to continue this growth and change. Breaking barriers is the first step, and supporting other women through these barriers is the next step.
WEST aims to inspire women by creating a space where they can interact with leaders, mentors, and those who have changed the expectations for what it means to be a woman in the workforce. Recognizing inspirational women is important so we can gain passion from hearing about their stories. Relating to someone else’s story can help women understand the hard work and determination that led to their success.
Please join us for our 20th Anniversary / 12th Annual Awards Night for a night of celebration and networking. We also have a Gender Parity Panel Discussion on September 30th. We will be featuring those who have championed the advancement of women and advocated for gender parity in science and technology.