I had a business mentoring session with Ross MacKenzie last week. It turned into a massive brainstorm of new ideas. And it is no understatement to say that it was a transformative two hours.
What did I learn?
I’d been keeping my “day-job in IT” to one side whilst I worked on mindset and nutrition change. This has been giving me an incongruency, as I’m as passionate about women in STEM as I am about mindset and nutrition change!
Because I was so in the middle of it, I didn’t connect my own dots. My mentor immediately pointed out that as well as people that need help with the technical side of setting up a new online business, there are young women that need inspiration to get into STEM. Women already in STEM that need mindset help, nutrition change and leadership guidance. Dieters that love gadgets and technology that help them with their journeys.
He showed me that there was actually a very natural overlap between all my passions.
What happens now then?
So, I’m shifting the content of http://nikolahoward.com into being technology focused. The content will also cross over between my other passions. The brainstorm demands nothing less!
I’m happy that I’ve made these shifts, even though it’s work, they feel right. I’m definitely feeling far more congruent and focused. I don’t have to suppress or hide what is a large part of my knowledge and experience anymore, which fills me with joy.
I’m looking forward to the next steps in my journey and working with you!
Women are vital to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) for one very outstanding reason, beyond intelligence, capacity or ability – Women provide a different perspective and voice.
That is a weird statement to make, really obvious, and even potentially condescending, but given that STEM is very much dominated by the male perspective and voice, women can and do get shut out. In more ways than the obvious.
I saw this when I attended a Lecture just before Xmas given by Intelligence2 – BRIAN COX AND ALICE ROBERTS ON THE INCREDIBLE UNLIKELINESS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE – Both brilliant minded scientists in their own fields, and yet Brian pretty much dominated the conversation. There was no condescension, and a great deal of respect and some back and forth, but Brian definitely opined more than Alice, and it was an oddness watching Alice (to my perspective) “look for verification” to talk on about subjects, as well as a few times Brian cutting over Alice, and her just letting him ramble on more. It was a good and very enjoyable talk, but it was very much “The Brian Cox Show”, which did mean it was a touch unbalanced.
In audience questions, Brian was directly asked a “trap” question – “If you had to work in an all-male team, or an all female one, which would you choose and why?” – and I felt that he handled it rather well. Avoiding the obvious sexism trap, he chattered around it for about a minute, before boiling his answer down to “We need woman in science, because wasting 50% of the brains on the planet is criminal!”
This means to my mind that we have a “two-fold” issue in STEM:
We have a lack of “push” towards “tech” (Duplo/Lego), “logic/puzzles” and “building stuff” (Mechano/just breaking things and putting them back together) at the primary level, mostly from Parents following their own “stereotype education”, steering little Johnny at the “Constructing Things” and little Susie at the “Dolls and Pretties”, (for instance, the segregation/”pinkificaiton” of toys is way more prevalent now than it was when I was a child, (35 years ago!))
I feel that this lack of push for girls towards what ultimately becomes leaning in STEM subjects with following careers means that by the time they are hitting secondary school option time, they are not wanting to pursue a STEM subject, and potentially (depending on socialisation) even see STEM as “Too Manly” for them to want to get involved in!
The “standardised” socialisation of boys and girls (which I never had, thank you again Mum!) will cause issues way beyond learning STEM subjects. Because girls are socialised (in various degrees) to “talk the step back”, “not talk over people”, “be selfless”, “empathise” (and even in some cases, “wait for men to talk first”), when we then find our way to STEM, we have to then “unlearn” that set of behaviours, as that stepping into the STEM world usually demands a “more masculine” communication approach. This is a “double edged sword” of expectations, as behaviours that men see in other men as “forward thinking”, “takes charge”,”gets the job done” (the behaviours that managers seek in the people they want to promote) are seen in woman as “bitchy”, “abrasive”, “aggressive”.
These attitudes are counter-productive, as it causes the loss of female perspective, both on the micro level of day-to-day interaction, and on the macro, as many highly qualified STEM women are now seeking jobs in alternate industries due to this “Old Boy’s Club” gender bias. The double edged sword defeats all of us, regardless of gender.
In plain terms, women tend to think around problems in differing ways to men, and given that most of the big scientific discoveries are made by pure fluke and happy accident, through what’s called “unguided” research (following a research path just for the heck of it, “playing around” with ideas) or by looking at problems from a different perspective, or even research discipline. This need for differing perspective means that the female perspective is needed now, more than ever before! For instance, some of the most exciting research happening now is in Multidisciple/Cross-Discipline facilities. The Crick Institute in King’s Cross is being built on this principle of “Mix it up”, and they are active promoters of female brain talent.
With the world now having massive focus on STEM, and women finally gaining “equal recognition” of our brain power, even if not of our gender yet, we all need to work toward removing the gender bias in STEM. For my part, I’ve no “pseudo-nieces” (I’ve 4 pseudo-nephews though!) that I can encourage into STEM, so I’ve joined “Inspiring the Future” – to help encourage girls at Secondary level to get into STEM. What will you do?