Why Women Excel in Business and STEM
As most Classy Career Girls would agree, women belong in the conference room. We have the drive, the experience, and the motivation to prove our worth in any office or workspace.  Yet, somehow, we are still struggling to get there. Women make up less than half of the total number of employees in large S&P 500 companies – the largest companies in the stock market – and women make up only 19.9% of board room seats. On top of that, only 4% of the CEOs in the S&P 500 list are women.
However, on the positive side, most small businesses are owned by women. Somehow, despite the lack of numbers in larger, male-run companies, women are still succeeding as leaders and innovators on a smaller scale. The numbers prove that we excel in management! So why are we struggling to prove ourselves on a more international level?
Many women like to rely on the words of author and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In philosophy. Although it’s true that some aspects of “leaning into” the men’s club might provide an advantage for women in executive positions, there are reasons outside of this philosophy as to why we succeed.
This could be where we are hitting a wall, so to speak: instead of adjusting our approach to meet male business standards, we need to take the industry by storm as we are.  Women are good at business, and that isn’t because we make ourselves more accustomed to the male-run industries of today. It’s because we come into the industry as women.

Why Women Excel in Business and STEM

1. Diversity in Perspective

Research into business culture has shown that adding women to the conversations in the boardroom is a growing trend that is good for business. Not only does breaking up male-dominated boardroom conversations offer a unique and different perspective than that of the “boys club” of the past, but it also has proven to be extremely profitable. The few international businesses that have allowed women to join these discussions have discovered just how beneficial a diverse conversation can be.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba (the ‘Amazon of China’), stated in a press conference that female executives are his “secret sauce” to success. In Alibaba, women hold 34% of the leadership roles within the company and make up a third of the founding members. Jack Ma states that success is due to “women [who] balance the logic and the instinct.”

2. Empathy

Jack Ma’s evaluation of what women bring to the table may seem vague, but is profound in its simplicity. Women are raised in our society to be caretakers for children and emotional supports for men. The biased upbringing is no doubt harmful to female empowerment – often times forcing women to be the shoulder of support for so many to lean on – but it is extremely beneficial for building up our empathy. Empathy in business is one of our key contributions, as it leads to a heightened emotional intelligence.

3. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and evaluate emotions within ourselves and others, and women are traditionally better at tuning into their emotions. In a business environment, emotional IQ is especially useful, as managers can empathize with their employees and avoid stressful situations or miscommunication. Businesses that place a heavy emphasis on emotional IQ during their hiring and promotion process have found that it can result in a 34% increase in profits. Employees are happier, managers are happier, and the whole business succeeds because of it.
[RELATED: 11 Ways to Stay Organized In Your Job Search]

4. More Risk-taking

Of course, the simple addition of diverse voices is key to progress as well. Adding diverse voices (female, people of color, and other minority groups) to the conversation adds perspective, which can lead to businesses appealing to hard-to-reach demographics; especially in the aspect of marketing. Yet even within leadership and CEO roles, diverse voices can result in greater risk-takers and more opportunity for innovation. No brilliant idea started from following the status quo. It starts from breaking the mold.

The Future is Bright

Women, unfortunately, are exceedingly hard to find in the technology industry, and this could be due to tech-company bias or lack of women in the field. Due to discouragement during school, most women avoided science and shop class while receiving their education. I’m sure many women can recall a comment from a teacher, or a suggestion from a parent akin to “don’t worry about that, girls don’t like this stuff anyways.” Luckily, that perspective is slowly changing within education.
The recent push for STEM learning in classrooms across the country means more girls than ever will receive an education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The future is bright for a more diverse scientific field, but for now, we are still struggling. Thankfully, we have the aid of educational leaders that are promoting the addition of women to STEM research.
Michael Crow, President and pioneer for online education through Arizona State University Online, has realized the importance of women in STEM, and not just for a number’s game. Crow recognizes that women are essential to problem-solving and providing different ideas to the same conversations. He recognizes that the same influence that has been building in business needs to shift to the STEM field. In regards to shifting the education gap, Crow states: “We can do better. We must do better.”
Colleen Smith, a writer for Fortune Magazine and Vice President with OpenEdge at Progress, states that women are inherently influential to technology due to our excellent communication skills. Smith was able to use her ability to communicate to her advantage and slowly made her way up through the company. She expresses that the issue lies within a tech-savvy minded person’s inability to explain beyond the nuts and bolts of an invention, never exploring the why of its profitability: “I learned early on in my career that to get ahead, I needed to be able to clearly articulate (and in many instances be the one to “translate”) the technology behind what makes the business successful.”
Women in business is good for business, and women in STEM is the future of our technological world.
Slowly, we will see a change in the culture of the office, with more women placed into upper management and leadership positions. Despite our current struggles with equal pay and representation, we know that we can provide a vital key to unlocking the true potential of our industry; no matter what it is.
Don’t be afraid to lean out of the traditional mold, and don’t let anything hold you back from your potential. We have work to do, and it’s our time to shine!

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