How women can enter a successful career in STEM – key points to consider

The news of Sri Lankan born NASA scientist Piyumi Wijesekera being chosen for NASA’s simulated Mars journey has brought to the forefront the opportunities for women to enter STEM careers(Women in STEM).

You can excel in a STEM field and build the future too!

In STEM, women have fantastic opportunities to explore, learn, and solve important problems. While there may be fewer women in these fields right now, things are changing rapidly. Opting for a STEM path means diving into exciting realms like developing new technologies, finding solutions to global challenges, and making significant contributions to society. It’s an empowering journey where you can use your skills to innovate and make a real difference in the world. If you enjoy problem-solving and making a positive impact, STEM offers a fulfilling path to pursue.

Sri Lankan born NASA scientist Piyumi Wijesekera being chosen for NASA’s simulated Mars journey

1.    Science: Women in STEM

Biological Sciences:

  • Career Options: Microbiologist, Biochemist, Geneticist, Ecologist, Marine Biologist
  • Key Employers: Research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, environmental agencies, universities
  • Example Programs: Biology, Biochemistry, Environmental Science

Physical Sciences:

  • Career Options: Physicist, Chemist, Geologist, Meteorologist, Astronomer
  • Key Employers: Research laboratories, government agencies, educational institutions, private companies
  • Example Programs: Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, Astronomy
WomenInStem

2. Technology:

Information Technology and Computer Science:

  • Career Options: Software Developer, Data Scientist, Cybersecurity Analyst, IT Manager, Systems Analyst
  • Key Employers: Tech companies, financial institutions, healthcare organizations, government agencies
  • Example Programs: Computer Science, Information Technology, Cybersecurity, Data Science

Digital Media and Design:

  • Career Options: UX/UI Designer, Web Developer, Digital Content Creator, Graphic Designer, Animation Specialist
  • Key Employers: Marketing firms, tech startups, entertainment industry, e-commerce companies
  • Example Programs: Digital Media, Graphic Design, Web Development, Animation
WomenInStem

3. Engineering:

Civil and Environmental Engineering:

  • Career Options: Civil Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Urban Planner, Structural Engineer, Water Resources Engineer
  • Key Employers: Construction firms, government agencies, environmental consultancies, infrastructure companies
  • Example Programs: Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Urban Planning

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering:

  • Career Options: Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Aerospace Engineer, Robotics Engineer, Automotive Engineer
  • Key Employers: Manufacturing companies, aerospace industry, automotive companies, tech firms
  • Example Programs: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Robotics

4. Mathematics:

Applied Mathematics and Statistics:

  • Career Options: Statistician, Actuary, Operations Research Analyst, Data Analyst, Quantitative Analyst
  • Key Employers: Financial institutions, insurance companies, healthcare organizations, government agencies
  • Example Programs: Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Data Analytics, Actuarial Science

Theoretical Mathematics and Research:

  • Career Options: Mathematician, Research Scientist, Cryptographer, Mathematical Modeler, Academic Researcher
  • Key Employers: Universities, research institutions, tech companies, governmental research bodies
  • Example Programs: Mathematics, Theoretical Mathematics, Mathematical Sciences

5. Interdisciplinary Fields:

Biomedical Engineering:

  • Career Options: Biomedical Engineer, Medical Device Designer, Clinical Engineer, Research Scientist
  • Key Employers: Medical device companies, hospitals, research labs, pharmaceutical companies
  • Example Programs: Biomedical Engineering, Bioengineering, Biotechnology

Environmental Science and Sustainability:

  • Career Options: Environmental Scientist, Sustainability Consultant, Conservation Scientist, Renewable Energy Specialist
  • Key Employers: Environmental agencies, non-profit organizations, renewable energy companies, research institutions
  • Example Programs: Environmental Science, Sustainability Studies, Conservation Biology

6. Emerging and Specialized Fields:

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning:

  • Career Options: AI Researcher, Machine Learning Engineer, Data Scientist, AI Ethicist
  • Key Employers: Tech companies, research labs, financial services, healthcare technology firms
  • Example Programs: Computer Science with a focus on AI, Data Science, Cognitive Scienc

Cybersecurity:

  • Career Options: Cybersecurity Analyst, Ethical Hacker, Security Consultant, Network Security Engineer
  • Key Employers: Financial institutions, government agencies, tech companies, consulting firms
  • Example Programs: Cybersecurity, Information Technology, Computer Science with a focus on security

7. Education and Outreach:

  • STEM Educator and Advocate:
    • Career Options: STEM Teacher, Curriculum Developer, Education Consultant, Science Communicator, Outreach Coordinator
    • Key Employers: Schools, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, science museums
    • Example Programs: Education with a focus on STEM, Science Communication, Curriculum and Instruction

Benefits of Pursuing a STEM Career

  1. Innovation and Creativity:

STEM careers foster innovation by encouraging problem-solving and creative thinking.

Individuals can contribute to technological advancements and scientific discoveries.

2. Job Stability and High Demand:

STEM fields are in high demand, offering job security and numerous career opportunities.

These careers often provide competitive salaries and growth potential.

3. Skill Development:

Enhances analytical, critical thinking, and technical skills.

Provides hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology and methodologies.

4. Impact and Contribution:

Opportunities to make significant contributions to society, such as improving healthcare, developing sustainable solutions, and advancing technology.

Allows for meaningful work that can positively impact people’s lives.

4. Continuous Learning and Growth:

Encourages lifelong learning and staying updated with the latest advancements in the field.

Provides opportunities for personal and professional growth through continuous education and research.

Online Courses for Each STEM Pathway

Science:

Biological Sciences:

  • Courses: Biology Everywhere (Coursera), Biochemistry: The Molecules of Life (edX)
  • Certifications: Professional Certificate in Biochemistry (HarvardX)

Physical Sciences:

  • Courses: Introduction to Physics (edX), General Chemistry (Coursera)
  • Certifications: Professional Certificate in Quantum Mechanics (MITx)

Technology:

Information Technology and Computer Science:

Digital Media and Design:

Engineering:

Civil and Environmental Engineering:

  • Courses: Civil Engineering Basics (Coursera), Environmental Management (edX)
  • Certifications: Professional Certificate in Sustainable Energy (edX)

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering:

Mathematics:

Applied Mathematics and Statistics:

Women as inventors in STEM fields

Women in STEM are key players in shaping the future through innovation and discovery. To empower more women to take action in STEM and become inventors for the future, it’s essential to provide mentorship, support networks, and opportunities for hands-on learning. By highlighting the achievements of women in STEM fields and showcasing their contributions to society, we can inspire the next generation of female innovators. Creating inclusive environments where women feel valued and encouraged to pursue their passions in STEM is crucial for unlocking their full potential. Together, let’s champion women in STEM and foster a culture of creativity, curiosity, and collaboration to drive positive change for generations to come.

Exploring these diverse STEM career pathways provides women with numerous opportunities to contribute to and excel in various scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical fields. Whether it’s through traditional disciplines or emerging areas, there are plenty of career options that offer exciting and rewarding prospects.