It is not a secret anymore that women participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields is low compared to men. According to UNESCO, female students in STEM only make up 35% globally. Only 3% of students in the Information Communication and Technology field at university level are women.
Thanks to gender equality campaigns, the number of women involved in STEM fields is now higher compared to the number in the 18th century when the fields emerged for the first time. Even though now we have more women in STEM, the opportunities that women have to complete and benefit from an education of their choice are still not the same when compared to ones which men possess. Therefore, we still have a long list of homework to make STEM fields more inclusive to drive innovation. In the end, it contributes to sustainable development which has a pledge that no one will be left behind.
We asked Elin Hauge, a true leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI), to share her experience on how to make it as a woman in STEM. Elin’s expertise ranges from creating business strategy, cultural competence and sustainable digitalization. But how do you become a leader in such a male-dominated field yourself? Read on for some insightful tips from Elin herself.
#1 grow from the situation and control your own story line
To work in a field of STEM that is dominated by men is not an easy task. For Elin, the chances of women and men being treated differently, especially around conflicts, is higher. Learning from her own experiences, we have to accept that not all employers are open to having an employee that challenges the status quo. No matter how right they might be. We have all the control to make our own decisions, the choice is ours. It is either that we let that experience define ourselves or grow from the situation and control our own story line and move forward: “I made a conscious decision not to embrace anger and bitterness, but to focus on my personal growth in the situation.”
#2 stop producing, start thinking
For Elin, in order to do bigger things, we need to have bigger thoughts. Not only does she build her portfolio but also she invests her time into thinking about her goals and how to achieve them. People are good at doing but not many people are good at thinking. We also need to keep in mind that even if STEM is male-dominated field, it does not mean that men in suits are much smarter than women. We have to reflect and evaluate our working styles but first we need to “stop producing, start thinking.”
Photo: Unsplash/Katrina Wright
#3 stand up for what you believe in
When asked about one thing that led Elin to where she is today, she firmly answered with: “think for yourself, and stand up for what you believe in.” For Elin, it is essential to prioritize ourselves in any given situation and control our reaction based on the values and principles we hold onto.
Intrigued to learn more from Elin? Super! Elin also shares her learnings for personal and professional development.
#1 be clear about yourself
It can be started from being honest to ourselves on WHY that fuels our commitment. Throughout the process, we can also find a mentor or sparring partner. However, in order to get a mentor or sparring partner, it is important to be clear on what we want, why we want it, and what we can offer to the table. If we are unclear, we cannot expect anyone to understand us better. However, we do not need to have everything figured out because, as Elin said, we can always learn and figure things out together by sparring with others. This will help us to see things in a different light. “Also, working with and getting feedback from a mentee or mentor is a very good way of building self-confidence.”
#2 plan, act, reflect, and share
For Elin, structure is important to manage proper work-life integration. Planning is as important as assessing risk and having back up if the initial plan did not go as planned. “Always assess what the risks are, with which consequences; make plans to mitigate the unacceptable risks; have plan B ready.” Reflection and sharing insights are also important for the development of ourselves and our way of thinking.
#3 seize the opportunity, do not wait
Elin shared two things about opportunities. First, to learn to say no for the opportunities that are too good to be true. Second, the opportunities that seem different from our expertise would help us to grow faster. Her ultimate learning is do not wait for other things to happen nor for others to push you in the right direction. “Take the ball and start running!”
Elin mentioned three key factors to get into where she is today. They are personal values, plan management, be courageous and do it. Here in the female factor you can find many free resources to boost your personal and professional development needs. Check leaders blog series on #howtomakeit on our website and be inspired!
Elin Hauge is an international business advisor with focus in AI and a professional speaker. Her expertise ranges from creating business strategy, business culture competence to bridge AI and business value, sustainable digitalization, and responsible application of data-driven technologies.