Needle

I recently attended a very large Women in Tech conference and something struck me on a whole new scale.

Houston, we have a problem!

The problem is that despite all of the amazing work (and I mean amazing!) and effort being done globally to increase the number of females in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths), we are failing to successfully move the needle forward. In fact, if anything, the numbers are decreasing in many areas. Why is this?

I personally believe it’s because we are failing to address the fundamental issues that are both discouraging women from entering these careers in the first place and more importantly, not enabling them to stay, when they do. These fundamental issues mean the numbers of women entering STEM careers are being negated by the numbers leaving. Our failure to create a sustainable way for parents (yes men and women!) to truly balance work and childcare is the problem. We must envisage careers and contracts that are flexible, fair and thought-leading.

Was it Albert Einstein that said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well maybe it’s time to think radically different and challenge ourselves  to drive disruptive change in areas like tech, science and engineering where disruptive change is a fact of daily life.

  • What if we could provide people with daily working hours that mirror school hours? 9am-1pm for example.
  • What if we could provide a working year that mirrored school terms? Yes, I actually do mean 3 months off in the summer and mid-terms off too!
  • What if you could work these hours in the privacy of your own home?

Sounds drastic, doesn’t it and we can probably all think of 10 reasons off the cuff why we couldn’t make it work, but let’s ask ourselves this…..if we really dig deep, could we find ways to resolve each of these challenges?

Shouldn’t we at least look at it? Don’t we owe it to ourselves, to our industry and to the generations coming after us to figure this one out? Yes we would have to think outside the box and create new processes, but we’re used to that right? We do it every day of the week. And yes we would have to figure out how to measure productivity differently but we’re going to have to do that anyway as the nature of work changes in this new connected world.

Food for thought? I think so.