By now, the advantages of diversity have been well documented in numerous reputable studies. Having more gender diversity in the workplace allows for more opinions and viewpoints across industries resulting in better ideas, increased productivity for both men and women and increased profitability. Unfortunately, the impact of gender diversity is only held back by antiquated notions of gender stereotypes, sexism, and women feeling less comfortable joining industries traditionally dominated by men.
Why aren't there more women in STEM fields?
STEM stands for the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, statistics show that very few women consider pursuing a degree in these fields and as a result, very few women end up working in these industries. But why? There can be a number of reasons, such as:
- Lack of role models: if there is a lack of female representation in STEM fields, fewer young girls want to pursue this path, creating a self-perpetuating problem. We tend to gravitate towards careers that have role models we can look up to. However, history has always favoured highlighting the achievements of men in science, despite the massive contributions of women in these fields. This results in fewer women feeling like they are represented in STEM fields and is a deterrent for young girls to consider pursuing STEM career paths.
- Sexism in universities: professors teaching STEM subjects might have an unconscious bias towards women in their classes. This is an issue that exists in universities worldwide and may discourage women from continuing to pursue these fields. Why does sex discrimination exist in the first place? This may be due to the stereotypes of men having more natural talent in these fields, which simply isn’t true. Competency in STEM subjects has nothing to do with gender, but unnecessary pushback such as this, results in women opting to choose alternate career paths.
- Sexism in the workplace: Men might be biased towards women entering this field since they might see it as a "boys only" club. Because there are fewer female leaders within these organisations that can champion women's causes, women might feel they don't have enough allies to influence change in what could be a toxic work environment.
How can more women be encouraged to join STEM fields?
FDM has always championed greater gender equality and diversity in the workplace. Various initiatives have been implemented in our offices and our policies to ensure more women join the world of tech. It's important to highlight the work of women in tech and to continuously host events geared towards women with the goal of empowering and encouraging them to consider a career in STEM.
#FemTech Futures Hackathon
This year, FDM hosted its second annual #FemTech Futures Hackathon, an all-female virtual event. The Hackathon attracted approximately 200 applicants, with teams from across Canada challenged to create their very own original video game in under 6 hours.
Participants used an online engine to create a game that utilises a 3D model of a pre-programmed race car. Next, the teams programmed the race cars into their maps and used a visual programming asset to create all logic and behaviours in the game.
The winning team hailed from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and prizes were presented to the top three winning teams. Participants were also invited to an exclusive Q&A with FDM’s Senior Vice President of North America. Here are some testimonials direct from event participants:
- "#FemTech Futures Hackathon was an amazing experience! I had so much fun connecting with my teammates, working together to use a platform many of us had never used before. Due to this hackathon, I have started more projects using Unity and Bolt. I've learned to reach out of my comfort zone to try a new application to create a fun, cool game." - McMaster Student, Computer Science major, class of 2023
- "The hackathon challenged us to use software and apply it to solve real-world problems in only 4 hours! It was rewarding to solve the problem with a small team of brilliant females that I had just met for the first time. This is empowerment that as females alone, we can tackle any problems given to us." - Ryerson Student, Computer Science major, class of 2022
Digital Bootcamp In Celebration of International Women's Day
This event was held to raise awareness of Diversity and Inclusion at FDM and underrepresented groups in the tech industry by providing digital upskilling to non-technical participants, aimed at inspiring women to join the tech industry.
Multiple events were held through March and April, including welcome sessions where participants were introduced to each other to foster a group and community feel for the rest of the bootcamp.
Other sessions of the bootcamp aimed to encourage discussions and activities related to stereotypes, unconscious bias and self-promotion. Participants were also introduced to the fundamentals of HTML and CSS. At the end of the bootcamp participants took part in interviews, which, if successful, fast-tracked them to the final stage process of joining FDM’s Graduate Programme.
In-person event for WSU's Women in STEM Education (WiSE) program
FDM's Bangaroo office hosted an event for the students of Western Sydney University's (WSU) Women in Stem Education programme.
The event explored several topics, including a workshop about the widening of the digital skills gap, information about the key transferable skills for a career in technology and finished off with a panel of tech consultants sharing their experience working at FDM.
In our 30- year experience within the IT industry, FDM has seen many of our female consultants going above and beyond to do amazing work in the tech space. If you are interested in a career in tech, check out our Technical Graduate Programme career prospects. FDM will support you every step of the way.