On International Women’s Day I thought I’d share an extract from my book Mirror Thinking about how important role-models are to enabling positive traction….
‘The impact of diverse role models reaches far beyond the executive board room. Research from Microsoft, for example, shows that the number of girls interested in STEM decreases as they move through education. Despite entering school with similar levels of ability in maths to boys, there is a trend for them to lose interest. The overall result is that women are under-represented in STEM fields, especially in areas such as engineering and computer science, which are in huge demand globally. The World Economic Forum explains how rapid advances in artificial intelligence, along with robotics and other emerging technologies, means that the nature of jobs is changing rapidly. The future job market is likely to become more clearly split between non computer- based skills and technical. The prediction is that at least 133 million new roles will be generated globally as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, requiring women to make up a significant proportion of the workforce. However, research has shown that as societies become more wealthy and the gender gap closes, women will be even less likely to gain degrees in STEM subjects. This is being called the ‘gender-equality paradox’.47 So how do we combat this issue?’
‘Microsoft’s research, spanning 12 European countries and including nearly 12,000 females aged 11–30, showed that the number of girls and young women interested in STEM across Europe, on average, almost doubles when they have a role model to inspire them. The results also revealed that having a role model for a particular subject area, such as chemistry, shows positive uplift in all STEM subjects. Role models give girls and women greater confidence in their ability to achieve within STEM, more passion for the subjects and more interest in pursuing careers in technical fields. They are able to more see themselves via their mirror system in those roles if they can see women who are already there.’
In short we need more role-models to enable change. But we also need women to be visible, women of all personalities, backgrounds and ethnicities. Women with different stories and perspectives. Women who rise to the top but as much as that women who are happy fulfilling their potential and shining at all levels of organisations and life. It’s not just about leaders.
So if you are women, you are a role model. It’s your responsibility to be seen and heard in order to allow other girls and boys to see their own way through.
Extract from Mirror Thinking – How Role Models Make Us Human (Bloomsbury, July 2021) by Fiona Murden. To find on amazon, Waterstones or Barnes and Noble go to:
USA and Canada https://bit.ly/MirrorUSACan
Barnes and Noble https://bit.ly/3bRZyN4
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