Everything school taught you about succeeding in your career was wrong. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

Whether you’re a man or woman, opportunities and promotions don’t happen simply because you’re good at your job. There is no omnipresent CEO who automatically recognises all of your hard work and diligence.

If career progression was based solely on ability, it’s likely that STEM wouldn’t be struggling with its current skills gap. There are simply not enough people to fill the demand. Yet, there is a vast pool of untapped talent largely overlooked by leaders.

Women are 50% of the working population, but only 17% of STEM roles.

Studies into STEM’s diversity issue have made surprising findings. Attracting women into a technical career is not the biggest problem. Retaining them is. Women leave for the same reasons men do. When their careers stall.

So how do you keep your career moving?

By finding mentors and sponsors.

A mentor shares valuable skills you can apply to your career. A sponsor actively promotes you to the right people.

Traditionally, mentors will sponsor someone they think are most like themselves. This partially explains why women aren’t progressing as quickly in STEM.

But there is hope. Organisations, like Edinburgh-based GirlGeekScotland and Inclusiq, are aiming to start conversations by connecting potential mentors and mentees. Look for similar events in your area. Better yet, team up and start one of your own.

Categories: Non-fiction writing

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