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A founder’s guide: how to help women in STEM

tash-stem

Around the world, occupations requiring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills are on the rise. Over the next decade, STEM careers are expected to grow by 25% in Europe and twice as fast as all careers in the U.S. However, only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women. Female students show a high aptitude for technology careers, but interest lags. National research conducted among 116,372 female juniors and seniors in high school shows high aptitude, but low interest in in-demand careers such as engineering and technology.

As a 25-year old co-founder and CEO of Slip, a retail agnostic app, I have followed my own and others’ frustrations at the lack of digital options to innovate and simplify the retail experience for customers. Further, I’m also passionate about encouraging more women into STEM careers and here I intend to share five key tips to help women win in STEM.

Encouraging STEM careers from an early age

First and foremost I believe it is imperative that information regarding STEM careers is easily accessible within schools. By providing children access to female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians from an early age common misconceptions and stereotypes can be eradicated, allowing children to flourish in what they enjoy and excel at in school without this being viewed as unrelatable or unachievable. 

PWC research found that only 27% of female students say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males, and only 3% say it is their first choice. Increasing education in schools feels like a high priority, with attraction and retention in the workplace equally important.

Mentorship

Although STEM can be portrayed as a ‘boys club’ there are plenty of women who have been successful in establishing a career in STEM. These women have also felt the pressure of succeeding within a male-dominated industry, therefore are happy to provide mentorship and support for women in the field. It is great to see the rise of new programmes offering mentorships that work with students, parents, and schools to ensure girls interested in a career in STEM are given the opportunity as well as valuable advice and insights from industry experts. Recently it was highlighted to me during interviews for an internship at our company that students are always hearing from entrepreneurs in tech during guest lectures but they are never women. This is a narrative I feel passionate about changing for young women breaking into STEM.

Equal Pay

In order to retain female STEM talent, companies must ensure that women are receiving equal pay to their male counterparts as well as equal progression opportunities. Unfortunately in the UK, there is still a significant pay gap present at all levels within STEM roles. Reports have shown that at the highest levels there are still pay gaps of over 30%. Until these numbers begin to balance out it is important that we continue to call this out.

I am lucky that up until founding Slip I have worked for companies that valued diversity and women as an integral part of the team. This is something that I strive to continue within Slip and create equal opportunities across the board.  

The importance of STEM careers

It should be noted that often STEM careers have a direct, positive impact on others whether that be doctors or scientists. The greater good of these roles is something that should be widely recognised and communicated to young people with an interest in STEM. It is inspiring for young people in the industry to know that their work is helping communities around the world and contributing to change.

Believe in yourself

For anyone working towards a career in STEM, I think one of the most important attributes to have is confidence in yourself and your own ability. Lack of confidence can be of a massive detriment when starting your career but reminding yourself of all you have achieved and that your hard work deserves to be recognised is key. I truly believe that standing tall and brave, especially as a minority in the field will give you the confidence needed to believe in your work.

By Tash Grossman, Co-founder and CEO at Slip

Tash Grossman along with her co-founder Eddy Herman founded Slip in 2021 to build an engaging customer product that allows retailers to capture in-store data. Recently, they raised £750k in a pre-seed fundraising round from notable investors including Haatch Ventures, SyndicateRoom’s Super Angel fund, as well as angel investors from Alma Angels – an inclusive organisation of angel investors, which sets out to actively invest in and support female founders who are building companies on a global scale.

Before founding Slip, Tash worked for digital transformation consultancy firm Gate One, where she advised some of the world’s most innovative and influential organisations, specialising in retail technology and innovation. She has also worked for KPMG in their financial services team, focusing on technology risk.  

She has been recognised in TechRound’s 29 under 29, been a finalist in Verizon’s Young Entrepreneur Competition, graduated from the Founder Institute programme, been voted Retail Week’s Startup of The Year for Data & Insight and been a finalist in Dell’s Women in Tech contest. Tash is also a full-time Fellow for Founders of the Future – an invite-only forum that connects some of Europe’s most promising emerging tech talent with entrepreneurs and investors.

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