Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, collectively known as STEM, are fields that historically have been dominated by men. This imbalance may discourage young women from joining the profession — which only perpetuates the serious gender gap in the industry.
Breaking the preconceptions about STEM means exposing young girls and women to role models in the field, "to make them recognize that, in fact, you don't have to really fit [a] stereotype," Alicia Abella, assistant vice president, of cloud technologies and services research organization at AT&T, told U.S. News and World Report.
If you're a woman who works (or wants to work) in STEM, here are 11 education and career resources to help you build your skills, network with other STEM professionals and find new career-related opportunities.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Founded in 1881, AAUW is one of the oldest women's empowerment groups in the United States. In addition to such programs as campus leadership, public policy and legal advocacy, AAUW has a dedicated strategy for increasing the number of young girls and women who pursue STEM education and careers. The organization has partnered with large companies like Verizon and Symantec to sponsor community events, women in STEM research/resources and investments in educational fellowships. aauw.org
Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
AWIS prides itself on being a "strong partner for women in STEM," offering numerous resources and programs for tech- and science-minded women. The organization works to advance policies, research, media and leadership development that promote the involvement of women in STEM. Joining the 20,000-plus members of AWIS gives you access to excellent networking and skill-building opportunities as well. awis.org
While Code School isn't specifically for women, it's an excellent way for female tech professionals to practice and learn the software and coding skills today's employers want to see. These creative and fun online courses offer several different educational "paths" depending on the programming language you want to work on. codeschool.com
The Kahn Academy is a non-profit community of volunteers and donors, which offers educational opportunities for everyone. The organization offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard that empower students to study at their own pace both in and outside of the classroom, the site said. Courses include math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, among others. The sole mission: a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. www.kahnacademy.org
Made with Code
This Google-sponsored initiative is all about empowering women to learn and use computer-science skills. According to the website's FAQ page, Google launched Made with Code because technology continues to power more and more aspects of daily life, but "women aren't represented in the companies, labs, research, creative arts, design, organizations and boardrooms that make technology happen." In addition to providing resources and opportunities for women interested in coding, the site offers "coding projects" for beginner and experienced female coders to get involved in. madewithcode.com
Million Women Mentors (MWM)
With nearly 60 partners, 30 sponsors and 30 state leadership teams, MWM is able to give more than 30 million girls and women the confidence and support they need to pursue a career in STEM. Working professionals can pledge their time and mentor young women through a variety of mentorship pathways, either through their own connections or via the MWM Web portal. MWM mentors are encouraged to devote 20 hours to their mentee(s) over the course of a year. millionwomenmentors.org
National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT)
The NCWIT calls itself a "community in action" that encourages educational and career reform to bring more women into STEM. Its member institutions — which include more than 600 nationwide universities, companies, nonprofits and government organizations — work together to sponsor programs and campaigns that increase female engagement in STEM fields. ncwit.org
National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP)
No matter which part of the country you live in, you're likely to find a NGCP Collaborative near you. This organization serves 40 states and uses collaboration to "expand and strengthen STEM-related opportunities for girls and women." Each Collaborative is connected to an extensive network of STEM professionals, researchers and practitioners, allowing participants to share resources with and learn from one another. ngcproject.org
This global movement is taking back the old playground insult and celebrating "nerd girls" everywhere. Membership-based Nerd Girls encourages women to change their world through STEM and get involved in science and tech projects that make a real impact on their community and environment. nerdgirls.com
TechWomen is a professional mentorship and exchange program launched by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in 2010. Over the past five years, the program has enabled women from the U.S. to connect and work with women from more than a dozen Middle Eastern and African countries, to help one another advance their careers in STEM. Getting involved in the five-week annual mentorship program is a great option for female STEM professionals who want an enriching cultural experience and an incredible mentorship opportunity. techwomen.org
The White House Council on Women and Girls
The Council on Women and Girls is the U.S. government's official nationwide effort to advance opportunities and representation for female Americans. One of the programs sponsored by the council is the Women in STEM initiative, run by the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The office is dedicated to increasing women's participation in STEM fields through a wide range of resources and events. whitehouse.gov/women
Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl.