I recently heard from a father who has two daughters, one starting college and the other in middle school. Both have strong inclinations toward math and science and he wondered how, as a father, he might support them in their interest.
It was a great question and one which I wish more fathers would ask for it is through dialogue that we can make a difference. Here was my response to him:
You can help by talking with your male friends and clients about fostering diverse talent in the workplace. Many women I talk with want to feel included and more impactful at work but often feel overlooked.
Hopefully, if more men in STEM fields encourage and look to women in technology for key openings within their organization then when your girls graduate, they will find great work environments that value diverse input and invest in diverse talent.
How to Dads Can Help Girls in Technology
We need to get the conversation going. It starts at the dinner table but then should quickly move to the conference table.
A recent Huffington Post article offered great, in-depth suggestions for girls from grade school through high school that will help you guide, encourage, and support your daughter’s interests in the STEM fields.
Here are a few examples from the article:
- Help your daughter develop strategies for academic success — good study habits, time management, organization, motivation, and goal setting. Learning style assessments, for example, will give her insights into specific habits and environments that will make studying more productive.
- Encourage her to take courses that are as rigorous as possible. Not only will she learn more advanced material, she will gain confidence from adapting to a challenge.
- If you have access to a campus, plan activities that familiarize your student with the college or university. Some familiarity with a college or university campus will help your daughter envision herself going there and down the road, will help her make the transition to higher education. If you know someone attending college, ask if your daughter can visit for a day. Attend events at a local campus to help your daughter start feeling comfortable in that setting.
- If your daughter doesn’t have a mentor or hasn’t had an internship in her field of interest, she should research and make those connections in high school. Encourage her to observe the traits and skills of happy and successful people and to think of how she can develop those traits and skills.
PBS.org offers even more suggestions in their Tips for Encouraging Girls in STEM article. To them, it starts with an open and regular dialogue.
Talk to girls in your life about math and science. Ask them about what they are learning in school. Encourage them to share their struggles and their successes!
As I suggested to the father who asked the question, continue those discussions in the workplace.
Here are just a few questions to ask:
- Why don’t we have more women applicants?
- Have we considered a woman for that promotion?
- Do we have women leaders that young girls starting out will want to emulate?
- How diverse is our talent pool?
The more often we have the discussion, the more it will become the regular part of our process. To be successful, companies, departments, teams, need the benefit of diverse thought discussions and the only way to do that is to include women in technology at the table.
- “Computing Is Too Important to be Left to Men” ~ A Professor States
- A Male Engineering Student Speaks Out for Women in Tech
- How to Hire More Women and Minorities
- Is There an Age Limit for Women in Tech?
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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