Why do Women Stay Away from STEM Careers? Poor Storytelling


As America struggles to find talent in technical careers, we’ve done a poor job of telling stories on why more women should take up science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.  At a recent panel discussion on the role of women in STEM careers, women said they felt a sense of isolation that grew from being underrepresented in technical careers.

STEM careers offered less social acceptance as they grew up. One panel member said that she had to purposely fail a math course to find acceptance in her social circles that had a distaste towards STEM careers. Another felt she always struggled to have a sense of acceptance among her peers.

Women are leading the jobs sector in multiple areas. But STEM fields are male dominated and less diverse. Why should a girl interested in robotics at high school face social stigma if she wants to become an engineer? Here are a few ways we can make systemic change:

  • Ask a professor in engineering to link dry equations and mechanical stuff to how  they really change the world.
  • Make simple changes in curriculum so that every science course adds a “make a difference” component. Value story telling.
  • Fathers have an important role in nurturing young girls to enter STEM careers.
  • Provide middle school students with diverse role models in STEM careers. Make sure that they are fun to relate to.
  • Add mentoring and value-added internships at the high school level. Give this opportunity to students from all public schools, not just students from prep schools and élite private schools.
  • Make sure that teachers teach science and math with passion. Unfortunately, our education system enjoys lengthy “common core standards.”  This drains teachers’ time in adapting to standards. Make sure that bureaucratic standards do not take away the joy and passion of learning math and science.

Cross-pollinating content: Where will it take us?


pollinationDuring my school days, an elderly biology teacher taught us cross-pollination in  simple terms. Today, it’s interesting to see how content gets cross-pollinated across multiple platforms.

By definition, cross-pollination of content is very simple. We dust  pollen off, in this case, words into every conceivable content platform we can. Our craze for repurposing has led us to rewrite less. Instead, we spend more time identifying keywords for search engine optimization. As content gets monetized, we forget ideas that really impact the bottom line. What do consumers want?

In our hasty bid to create, market and cross-pollinate content, we sacrifice authenticity for choice words . We engage in a mechanical, thesaurus hunting expedition sacrificing creativity. We look for platforms to cross-pollinate content and forget, to quote William Zinsser that rewriting is harder than writing. Are we creating content that provides a new user experience, adds value and moves an individual’s decision-making process?

Research from Hubspot says that adding 15 new pieces of content will increase traffic on your site five times more. Great! But is that traffic relevant? At a recent seminar, content marketer Arne Keunn  gave out some statistics showing the growing power of sharing content online. Here are a few observations: 93% of people use search before making purchases, 86% of search is for non-branded items, 90% click on organic clicks versus sponsored advertisements.

According to renowned writing coach, Ann Wylie, marketers should be “attention creators,” not just content creators. Once you know what your customers want, develop content that is easy, intuitive and usable. Think strategically about cross-pollinating content across different platforms so that in every medium you become an attention creator. Optimize content for your audience, your audiences’ devices and promote it through your website. Make it fresh every week. Today, marketing begins and ends here.