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July 29, 2021

17 tips for young women interested in a career in STEMM

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Self-driving Car Mechanic, Telesurgeon, Commercial Space Pilot, Chronocurrency Broker. These are just some of the likely new STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) jobs the next generation will be searching in 2050. But who will be doing the searching?

It’s disheartening to find out that globally, fewer than one in three women choose to study in STEMM related fields in higher education.

Encouraging young women to pursue and thrive in STEMM careers will ensure a diverse and inclusive STEMM workforce for the future. This will help prevent biases in these fields, and the products and services they produce, ultimately creating a fairer world for everyone.

We asked some of the best and brightest women in STEMM already thriving within the field to share their lessons and experiences – and what those who want to follow in their footsteps should expect.

Find a committed company


“One of the biggest success factors for any woman is having the right sponsor. Microsoft is big on ensuring they are investing in and sponsoring the right talent, and that’s what’s allowed me to grow.”

Agnes Panosian | Director of Data and AI Sales at Microsoft


“I initially thought that working in a big organization would be intimidating, and my daily interactions were unlikely to extend beyond my immediate team. However, at Mott MacDonald I was quickly met with a business where graduates and senior leaders connect frequently. It feels pretty incredible to work for an company of this scale and yet have a support network that provides you with the tools to navigate relationships with your managers, peers, and clients, as well as nurturing your critical thinking and soft skills.”

Anneke Simmonds | Civil Engineer at Mott MacDonald

Ignore the imposter syndrome


“Being women, we have imposter syndrome ingrained in our minds, and we question our capabilities especially when it comes to STEMM careers due to lack of role models. I can tell you that you are as equal and capable as your corresponding male applicant.

Raminder Sharma | Solution Architect at Ericsson

Don’t limit your options

WomeninSTEMM_YoungWomen_J.P. Morgan_Wafaa_WORK180Blog_July21

“My best piece of advice to students is do not limit your options (to a specific field or industry for example) when looking for a job. You will find that there are great opportunities in areas that you may not have initially considered. Women can be anything that they want to be.”

Wafaa Schiefler | Commodities Quantitative Researcher at J.P. Morgan


“Think about the future, where you want to be in 5-7 years’ time and ask whether what you’re doing now is setting yourself up for that. Then, when considering subsequent roles, think about something that broadens your options rather than narrows them, avoiding the trap of being an incredible subject matter expert — that limits your options.”

Jill Allen | Director of Bulk Manufacturing at CSL

Discover new approaches


“It’s been really cool seeing the legacy code and being able to take things to the next level. Building the [Adaptavist] site has been both fun, and a challenge. It’s been a great opportunity to experience the advantages and drawbacks of React, to work with others, and to discover new approaches.”

Danica Arthur-Asante | Web Developer at Adaptavist


“If you are considering an engineering career, do it! There are so many different avenues you can go down. It offers such flexibility and transferable skills, and allows you to work anywhere.”

Lucy Shoobridge | Unit Leader Infrastructure Planning at Unitywater

Follow your interests


“As women, we are very quick to doubt our capability of a task, role or job. But the reality is if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything you want. I started my career by pursuing my interests, which were computers, data, and helping people. I didn’t realize at the time how male dominant the industry was, all I knew was I found it interesting, and I wanted to do it. When you work in something that you are interested in or passionate about, then it doesn’t feel like a job!”

Pamela Carey | Sales Engineer at Splunk


“I had initially wanted to become an architect. I’m not the most artistic, but I was good at both math and science so I went into civil engineering instead of becoming a structural engineer. As I went through my university classes, I realized working in the water industry was a better fit for my interests. I was looking for a career that I could be proud of, working to serve the community.”

Kelcey Miller | Treatment Services Project Engineer at Unitywater

Ignore the stereotypes


“Don’t listen to people’s prejudices. Engineering has nothing to do with gender. It’s a long, and sometimes frustrating path. However, if you keep believing and improving yourself, it is quite exciting.

Nazli Güleryüz, Industrial Engineer at Schneider Electric UK

“I was always told to get out of my comfort zone and give everything a shot before saying no. Don’t put yourself in a box based on stereotypes, explore all your options, and you might find yourself enjoying a career you least expected to be in.

Team member at Schneider Electric AU

Don’t be afraid to go big


“When you first start, you don’t know what you’re going to enjoy. Talk to people about the jobs you think you might be interested in. People are very open to talk to young talented people. Don’t be afraid to work for a large corporation. There is a lot of opportunity, and they encourage entrepreneurial efforts.”

Milicia Ng | Head of Data Science at CSL

“STEMM is how we get to the future, and it’s for everyone! If you get a kick from understanding problems and building solutions, then don’t let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing a career in STEMM. It’s how you leave your mark on the world while doing what you love.

Joanne Huang | Infra Team Lead at Canva

Broaden your network


“Because we’re mostly working virtually, I try to stay as connected as I can with others by booking regular virtual catch-ups. Generally, these are with other grads or different people from across my team. Coming into CommBank as a grad, I think it’s vital to take the opportunities where I can to broaden my network and get to know people in different areas of the bank.”

Parthvi Sheladia | Software Engineer at CommBank

You need to take the first step


“Own the decisions you make, and own your career. If there’s something you want to do, or an opportunity you want to take – go for it. Build a support network to lift you up but remember that you’re still the one who needs to take the first step.”

Julia Mitchelmore | Software Engineer at Canva

Don’t be too scared to fail


“If the situation around why you want to ask for something will help you and your mental health – ask the question. If there’s a theme to my career it’s been to not give up – go for the opportunity. Don’t be too scared to fail – give yourself the opportunity to succeed.”

Priscilla Germanchis | Maintenance Manager at Transurban

Celebrate what you bring to the table


“Understand who you truly are. Challenge the unconscious bias. Follow your heart and do what you love. Celebrate who you are and what you bring to the table. The imperfections, the vulnerability, the story that makes you, you. Then find your tribe, your team, your people who can fill those gaps because together we are whole.”

Mansi O’Keefe | Senior Technical Officer at Unitywater

Find a mentor


“There hasn’t been a better time to be joining the STEMM industry as a woman. To understand the type of opportunities the field offers, find a mentor or attend career fairs. Talk to someone who works in an industry that interests you and can share their experience with you.”

Maricela Riddoch | Southern Region Highways Lead at Hatch

Soft skills are critical too


“Sometimes people underplay soft skills like relationship building, but they’re actually critical. Those relationships also challenge you to think more broadly than your own workspace.”

Antoinette Caldwell | Head of IT for Product & Planning at Woolworths Group


“Be curious and concentrate on your communication and networking skills. Growing a career in tech is not just about technical know-how. There are many people today with impressive technical skills, but with the right network and relationships behind you, you’ll have a competitive advantage that really aids your progression as you move forward.”

Jesline Justine | Associate SCADA Engineer at CGI

Let your imagination run free

“Over the years, work becomes play and play becomes work. What I love is the combination of technology and art. The things I can create using technology comes with the artistic side that keeps me balanced. The possibilities are many and only limited by my own imagination.”

Pauline Wong | Software Engineer at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank


“I have joined the technology industry because I saw the success of the software companies and I thought I would love to be part of it. Initially, I had some early doubts in my journey. I thought it might be boring sitting the whole day in the office – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Working in STEMM includes discussions, brainstorming, collaboration with smart, and intelligent people from different specialties. Which means it is not only math and code. It is design, user experience, bringing ideas to life.”

Yuliia Allen | Authenticating Experience Team Lead at Canva

Don’t count yourself out


“When looking at job advertisements for positions in STEMM, apply for jobs that you do not meet all the criteria for. I read an article recently that stated that most women will not apply for a job unless they meet all the criteria. My advice to others is to apply if you feel you are a good fit for the position and don’t do the job of the interview panel for them!”

Diane O’Connor | Senior Service Delivery Manager at CGI

Keep learning


“Boost your confidence with online learning. Tech is open to everyone. If you’ve got the drive and you want to work hard, the career pathways will open for you. Shadow someone to see what it is really like. A good mentor can give you confidence and support you to move into the role you want. Consider an apprenticeship. They are an amazing way to get hands-on experience whilst studying, and you’ll benefit from a supportive network of women colleagues.”

Sara Milne | Engineering Lead at Lloyds Banking Group


“Start learning Python if you are not already doing so. Data science has been generating a lot of buzz in recent years, from machine learning to artificial intelligence. Skills required for data science ranged from software skills like Python to mathematical concepts like gradient descent. It might sound intimidating at first, but it is really easy to get started thanks to the rapid developments of data science tools and increasing amount of high quality online courses.”

Yiming (Chloe) Yuan | Data Scientist at Safety Culture

Challenge the unknown


“If you’re asked to do something outside your comfort zone, give it a go. Grab the opportunity with both hands!”

Belinda Oakes | Manager of Applications Engineering APAC at Sandvik

Due to a lack of awareness of the broader range of STEMM careers available, Belinda was unaware that the job she holds today was even a possibility when she left high school to start her first degree. It was when Belinda applied her skills and training, to work as an Underground Mine Surveyor, that she saw the incredible STEMM career options available to all women, particularly in mining and its related industries.

Read more

The future is looking bright for those studying STEMM fields. Forging the way for future generations of women in STEMM professions can only brighten it even further for even more people. Why not read more about the initiatives our Endorsed Employers are taking to encourage more young women into STEMM.

To understand the variations of the STEMM acronym, check out our Diversity and Inclusion Glossary.

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About the Author
Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.