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National STEM Day Encourages Everyone to learn STEM Subjects

 

On November 8, we honor the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education with National STEM Day. To honor the day, businesses and organizations are encouraging students and adults in these subjects to learn more about them in order to address skills shortages in various science and technology industries. 

Leading technology industry experts have commented below on why STEM education is vital to the success of businesses and organizations and encourage others to take up STEM education in order to address challenges facing skills gaps.

April Taylor, Vice President, ConnectWise Manage, ConnectWise

"Every industry is tied to technology, so it's great that the right education is available, especially to younger aged kids because now they're getting more exposure early on to potential careers within the tech sector. Elementary schools now have laptops and assignments that include building websites at a young age. There are even toys for kids now that introduce them to the concept of coding. Technology is more pervasive and the exposure to coding and product development is there for a lot of kids, so it's a matter of getting them excited about taking this recreational or academic assignment and turning it into a career. Organizations should consider this when looking at the incoming workforce, especially since IT is always changing and the industry requires constant education to stay ahead of the curve."

Joseph Feiman, Chief Strategy Officer, WhiteHat Security

"Growing a workforce of individuals who are more STEM-qualified involves introducing them to options and training opportunities. People need to see firsthand when others have successfully gone down this path, so they can identify that it's a realistic option for them. From an internal communications point of view, few things are more powerful than enthusiastic colleagues showing the way.

Whether this requires organizations to teach new or additional skills, both will be important strategies to close the employment gap. The requirements will differ for each individual, but good assessment will allow employers to identify specific needs and tailor training to bring people to the required standards. Larger companies can place this in the hands of their learning and development teams. Smaller businesses can consider outsourcing the process or allocating time from experienced staff to mentor people as they add to their skillsets.

The key to building a strong STEM skill base lies in instilling love and enthusiasm from an early age. While schools are striving to ensure that their STEM curriculums are more robust, they can and should also leverage learning opportunities outside of the classroom to enhance learning, such as after-school clubs or programs, camps or tutoring.

One nonprofit organization making huge strides in this regard is Girls Who Code, which is working to close the gender employment difference in technology. It offers a pathway for girls who have completed courses to transition from middle or high school into the technology workforce, as well as a supportive community to help students and alumni persevere and achieve success.

Businesses interested in supporting STEM education should research local options to work with educators. These include making financial donations or encouraging colleagues to volunteer to help promote STEM careers among young people. The possibilities will vary depending on location, so reaching out to regional experts is key."

Michelle Fitzgerald, Director, Demand Gen & Events, Plutora

"The best way to advance the industries that rely on STEM knowledge in the future is to encourage children - both boys and girls - now to take an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at a young age. Encouraging girls in particular to study STEM subjects will help to bring a fresh perspective to an industry such as technology, which is traditionally very male-dominant. Diversifying the STEM workforce will ensure that technology will continue to revolutionize the world around us and bring positive impact to a broader range of industries."

Yumi Nishiyama, Director of Global Services, Exabeam 

"The gender gap definitely still exists in a variety of ways, many of which are widely publicized. For example, statistics say only 20% of individuals in tech are women, and only 11% percent of individuals in cybersecurity are women. We need more women in upper leadership, and the unequal wage issue is still a reality. I'd like to encourage women to take a proactive stance in not only building the solutions, but being a part of the solution.  

We need to continue encouraging females in STEM education and build more support structures for women throughout their careers. Tech and cybersecurity can have a bad rap for being male-dominated, which can be a deterrent for women looking for diverse environments. When I first started in this industry, I was often the only female among male colleagues and felt extremely outnumbered at the big conferences. Now, years later, the community of women has gotten stronger and incredibly welcoming and embracing. It's been slow, but it's changing, so I encourage women to reach out, support each other, and not to feel discouraged. My biggest piece of advice for women of all ages would be: ‘do not be afraid to use your voice.' As women, we bring different ideas and strengths. Be confident in what you're good at, pursue what you're passionate about, and let that be the focal point, not the stereotypes."

Alan Conboy, office of the CTO, Scale Computing

"Technology is constantly evolving and as such we need to remember that in order to continue to develop and innovate, we require fresh ideas and new skills. This is why days like STEM day, are important, because globally we are suffering from a digital skills shortage in areas including AI, hybrid, edge, cloud-based development and management. Both educators and industry leaders need to support and encourage more children and young adults into developing their STEM skills and show the students of today that they could be the CTOs of tomorrow." 

Sophie Harpur, Product Manager, Split Software

"As a woman in the technology industry, I believe that STEM Day is a very important day to honor. Women like Ada Lovelace, who is considered the first computer programmer; Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut and the youngest American to travel to space; and Margaret Hamilton, who invented software engineering, laid the groundwork for women in our generation to succeed in STEM-related careers. However, a recent study found that women make up only 24.7% of computer and math professionals. It's our job as women to carry on these pioneers' legacies and encourage young girls to take an interest in STEM programs."

Svenja de Vos, CTO, Leaseweb Global

"Even with the increased emphasis on teaching STEM subjects in schools and at universities, when it comes to filling technology roles most organisations are still struggling to find the right people with the right expertise. A key underlying reason for this seems to be the widening gap between what's being taught in the classroom and what's needed in the real world - technology today moves so rapidly it's hard to keep up.

Though the adaptation of technology aspects may not be happening fast enough, it's still vital to have a solid technology foundation such as a computer science or software degree. Keeping up with the tech revolution, however, means that STEM learning shouldn't stop there. So while we as a business strive to ensure that our employees stay as up to speed as possible through group training on specific tools or languages key to both the business and skills development, we strongly encourage students, graduates and technological evangelists wanting to enter the industry to proactively seek out opportunities to learn advanced digital skills. Continually developing yourself will make you stand out to prospective employers."

Chris Bergeron, Director of Technical Operations, Backblaze

If you have an interest in STEM- try things, and experiment. The sooner you get plugged into a social network of some kind in your field, like a group or a club or an open-source project, the sooner the world will open up for you. Because the people you meet will come from all different walks of life you will see all the different things they do and some of them might be interesting and different than what you initially thought of doing," said Chris Bergeron, Director of Technical Operations, Backblaze.

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Published Friday, November 08, 2019 2:47 PM by David Marshall
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