Celebrating Women in STEM

EnPower endeavors to spearhead not only a more sustainable future, but also a more equitable one. In the spirit of innovation, disruption, and progress, we proudly challenge industry standards and elevate underrepresented communities in STEM. On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, EnPower celebrates and amplifies the voices of our strong female leaders. 

Women have made meaningful strides in STEM; between 2008 and 2016, for instance, the number of women in the U.S. who earned a STEM degree or certificate rose by 48%. However, there are enduring gender disparities in STEM fields, which we acknowledge and commit to combating.

Studies reveal that, from early childhood, youth are still socialized with limiting gender stereotypes, such as the belief that intellectual ability is “gender innate.” When researchers showed children pictures of professional-looking adults, asking them which adults seemed most intelligent, 5 year olds primarily associated brilliance with their own gender. However, by ages 6 and 7, girls were less likely to associate high intelligence with their own gender, revealing just how early this socialization begins. By extension, since intelligence is perceived as a male trait, and many STEM fields are perceived as reliant on innate intelligence, these fields become similarly conceived. Sara Eddy of Florida International University notes, “Not only do we need to break down the ‘science is male’ stereotype, but now we need to break down a ‘brilliance is male’ stereotype, too.”

So, how can we dispel the myth that science is “for boys?” Research reveals that women role models are a critical component. A 2018 Microsoft study revealed that the number of European girls interested in STEM nearly doubled with the presence of positive role models, whether fictional (in film, media,  literature), real people, or women working in STEM, such as researchers, developers or inventors. These trends were mirrored by Microsoft’s research in the US.

Steps Towards Equity

It’s difficult, however, to have women as STEM role models when they are continually underrepresented in STEM leadership. In the tech industry, women make up only 16% of senior roles and just 10% of executive roles. To begin building a more equitable culture, BuiltIn recommends that companies start with a diverse candidate pool for employees and board seats, hire based on potential, not just current competencies, and put hiring managers through unconscious bias training. Simply hiring women, however, isn’t enough, if they are not treated equitably on the job. To equitably support–and retain–women in STEM, the Center for Creative Leadership highlights 3 key strategies: 

1. Provide women with challenging, career-advancing assignments. Men are disproportionately given projects with “bigger budgets, far more team members, and far more C-suite attention,” which accelerate learning, growth, and professional advancement.

2. Facilitate women’s networking, mentoring, and sponsorship opportunities. Women in STEM careers disproportionately lack mentors, role models, and senior-level sponsors. Yet, these types of relationships are proven to result in a 5X increase in the likelihood of promotion.

3. Provide opportunities for training and development. Most women in STEM aren’t receiving the training they need to advance their careers, while men are being favored for such opportunities. 

Setting a New Standard

EnPower’s team is built on the basis of ability and merit. We are proud to elevate diverse individuals from our process engineering team to our c-suite, and we are committed to cultivating a culture of mutual trust and respect in which all employees have the opportunity to thrive. In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we endeavor to use our platform to amplify the voices of our female team members. We are proud to have women across disciplines, in 2/3 of our executive roles and in 50% of our senior roles. 

Of course, the road wasn’t necessarily easy for the women of EnPower. VP of Engineering, Dee Strand, recalls being the only girl in her high school science and calculus classes and notes that the gender gap didn’t get much better when she entered the workforce. Today, as an esteemed, senior-level scientist, Dr. Strand emphatically encourages young women to enter STEM, saying, “If you like math and science, go into math and science! Go with your passion.” Roxana Martin, Process Engineer, shares a similar message, noting that working in a male-dominated industry can be “challenging, but it’s worth it.” Annette Finsterbusch, President and CEO, has been inspired by the change she’s witnessed in her lifetime. At the beginning of her career, it was never a surprise to be the only woman in the room; now, she sees women leading the way in battery technology development at companies large and small. 

The Value of Diversity

Ultimately, diversity means not only social progress, but better, more innovative outcomes. Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum and MSCI, companies with strong female leadership deliver at least a 36% higher return on equity. Furthermore, Harvard Business Review demonstrated that companies with diverse leadership were 45% likelier to report that their market share grew over the past year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market. EnPower strives to build not only better batteries, but also a better world and a more inclusive industry. We celebrate our bold female leaders, recognize the value of diversity, and encourage fellow innovators to do the same.

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