Inspiring Women for STEM Careers

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Adaptive Computing's VP of marketing Jill King

Adaptive Computing’s VP of marketing Jill King

Over at DataCenter Dynamics, Jill King from Adaptive Computing writes that women are severely underrepresented in STEM professions: In fact, only about a quarter of workers in STEM fields were women as recently as 2011.

To begin to address this issue, King reached out to three colleagues in the HPC industry to ask about their experiences. Here are three pieces of advice that emerged from these wonder women:

  • Find a mentor – SGI’s VP of global systems engineering Rhonda Dias, who has been in STEM for 27 years, offers these words to women beginning a career in STEM: “Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone question your chosen field. The most important thing is to find a mentor. Having someone to share experiences with and seek advice will go a long way.”
  • Be curious – Former IBM employee and now Cray’s product management director Dr Maria Iordache, recounted how she was the only female in her Ph.D. class, which was humorously accentuated by her professor’s greeting: “Good morning, lady and gentlemen.” She advises women to spend time with people that they admire by asking for a half-hour of their time for a quick chat or coffee. It provides a great platform to learn what steps they can take to prepare for a career in STEM.
  • Be accountable – Sue Kelly, a distinguished member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, has been working in STEM for nearly four decades. She advises, “When completing a task, if your best wasn’t good enough, that’s the end of the sentence. Don’t look for another excuse. You can only improve yourself.”

King goes on to stress the importance young people of having female role models in STEM fields.

You can’t force an interest in STEM professions, but you can expose young women to them and see if anything sticks. Bring them to museums that explore the wonders of math and science or show how the smart devices they love are a marvel of engineering and technology. All women in STEM have a remarkable sphere of influence. Together we can encourage and inspire the next generation to follow in our footsteps.

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