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The State of "Women in STEM" - The CSR Initiative That Spans All of Big Tech Is Getting Bigger

Growing the number of women in STEM is an increasingly important CSR initiative. In this post, we're exploring how your organization can get in on the foundational wave of tech up-skilling while bolstering your CSR for investors, employee retention, and brand reputation.

Vanessa Poulson
November 8, 2022

Increasing the number of women in STEM careers is one of the most important issues within the Big Tech community, and beyond. Closing the gender gap in STEM is no easy feat, considering many roles are still heavily dominated by men. Women make up only 28% of the workforce in STEM, and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college. 

The power to create immediate change and close the gender gap in STEM rests in the hands of corporations to develop and actualize initiatives that put a priority on educating and preparing women to enter STEM careers. A new opportunity to help corporations accomplish this goal is by utilizing up-skilling women and other underrepresented communities through CSR initiatives that focus on educating and empowering those who haven’t been traditionally included in the STEM workforce.

In this post, we’re going to break down why women in STEM is an increasingly important CSR initiative, and how your organization can get in on the foundational wave of tech up-skilling while bolstering your CSR for investors, employee retention, and brand reputation. 

Why does increasing the number of women in STEM matter?

When a field has significant underrepresentation by a specific population, innovation stalls, plain and simple. Studies show that more diverse research teams publish more papers and receive more citations than more homogeneous teams. Similarly, companies with greater diversity have significantly higher profitability than those without it.

Women in STEM careers bring important knowledge, skill sets and ideas to engineering businesses, and it's smart for companies to foster gender equality in the workforce not just for the innovative benefits, but to open the organization up to increased investment, better public perception, and long term positive brand identity and awareness. 

How can up-skilling women in STEM be used as a CSR initiative? 

While introducing women to the possibility of STEM careers begins in K-12 education, such as by routinely providing positive reinforcement, giving girls agency and voice, and introducing diverse female role models in STEM fields,  following girls to women and championing initiatives that allow the opportunity for women to contribute their ideas and have a seat at the decision making table is a huge part of closing the gender gap.

The globe’s leading brands have been expanding their program initiatives surrounding women in STEM for over a decade. IBM has launched an initiative called STEM for Girls India, a three-year CSR program for imparting digital literacy and coding skills alongside career development and empowerment, to improve career prospects of over 2,00,000 girls. Mastercard launched the Girls4Tech program,  to enable kids to discover a range of STEM careers and announced a new goal for the program to reach five million girls globally by 2025. 

These are just some of the major corporate women in STEM commitments, and many Fortune 1000 companies and beyond are continuing to champion new initiatives. Other leading brands joining this scaling initiative include:

AT&T - Leading programs focused on empowering girls and young women with tech and STEM skills, and increasing the representation of women in STEM careers.

IBM - Enabling girls to pursue STEM pathways through scholarships, career counseling, creating experiential learning experiences.

Shopify - Working to foster a new generation of women in technology and entrepreneurship across the US, Ireland, Germany, and Brazil.

Deloitte - Developing the future generation of female leaders in STEM. 

Hasbro - Partnering to help girls broaden their social impact skill set, benefit from a platform to tell their stories, and apply STEM for social good.

AirBnB - Making their interview and hiring process more gender-blind, as well as hosting talks that empowered more women outside of the company to apply for data science jobs.

Electronic Arts - Creating the Women’s Ultimate Team ERG as a place for women to support each other alongside male allies to increase female presence in the gaming industry.

Rolls-Royce - Championing a voluntary commitment from its members to increase the number of women in senior positions and under-represented areas by either 25 percent or to a minimum representation of 25 percent by 2025. 

Google - Leading their Women Techmakers program, which provides visibility, community and resources for women in tech, bringing together over 70,000 women each year through events and leadership programs.

Target - Innovating through their annual conference boosting the leadership, networking and change-making potential for women in tech at Target.

Several of these organizations are already making waves of progress by utilizing key CSR resources for women in STEM focused initiatives. AirBnB’s diversity report from September of 2021, the percentage of women in tech at the company has increased by 2.2 percentage points to 27.5 percent since 2019. Rolls-Royce has raised female participation on the board of directors by nearly 10 percent. It’s clear that these commitments from industry giants are already having a huge impact, and the trend is only continuing to grow. 

Initiating your own women in STEM focused CSR initiatives could be done in many ways, starting from the hiring and recruiting process and extending into C-Suite and CSR initiative decision making processes. Setting goals at your organization that open doors for women in STEM focused careers, creating hiring initiatives focused on sourcing female talent, or streamlining educational opportunities for women in STEM are all valuable initiatives that improve your company’s CSR forecast and contribute to closing the gender gap. 

Increasing access to educational opportunities is one of the major barriers in achieving women in STEM based initiatives, and many companies have struggled with sourcing and facilitating these kinds of opportunities to advance their CSR initiatives. 

In order to more effectively enhance STEM education, companies may work directly with a women’s focused NPO of their choice, or partnering with companies that platform accessible projects to help reach their CSR goals, like Paragon One

Paragon One facilitates CSR Learning focused externship programs serving underprivileged communities to help CSR Learning Leaders who are seeking to bolster their CSR objectives. Paragon One provides a a high-value low-effort solution for expanding their talent pool, while prioritizing CSR and enriching team impact by creating real-work experiences for the underrepresented Fortune 1000 leaders of tomorrow. 

In many traditional CSR initiatives, program heads are spread thin on work objectives outside of the program, which can cause deadlines to get missed and goals to go unachieved.  An established work experience provided by Paragon One specializes in creating positive and meaningful experiences, even unlocking an efficient pipeline to DEI aligned employment value.

Studies have shown that companies that fully integrate CSR into their operations can expect legitimate financial returns on their investments. Companies integrating CSR have been shown to increase sales and prices as well as reduce employee turnover, so not only does advocating for women in STEM focused CSR goals create a more diverse and equitable workforce, but employers reap quantifiable benefits

Become a leader in CSR by empowering women

When your organization champions initiatives for women in STEM, everybody benefits. Understanding how to take action on the latest focus in the Fortune 1000 makes it possible for your brand to see increased success, while creating real social impact for women and other underrepresented communities of tomorrow. 

What to learn more about accelerating your CSR goals through up-skilling?

We are inspired by the thousands of CSR and DEI Professionals designing social impact visions.  Paragon One is here to partner with impact leaders to bring their vision into reality.  

Join us for an authentic discussion between CSR leaders on how to engage and up-skill underserved communities, at scale.

Let's discuss how creating real-work experiences for the underrepresented Fortune 1000 leaders of tomorrow can accelerate the achievement of your CSR goals.

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Vanessa Poulson

As lead of The Impact Report, Poulson focuses on developing Paragon One’s industry insight into the expanding world of CSR, ESG, and social impact.

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