A Good Resume and Work-Life Balance: Ways Women in STEM Can Overcome Challenges in Their Careers

Despite making up nearly half of the workforce in the United States, women have consistently been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Women also face additional challenges such as pay disparity, discrimination, and lack of role models - but it's time for that to change. Here, Dark Hacker World shares the everyday challenges women in STEM face and how to overcome them today. 

The Gender Pay Gap

One of the most significant challenges women face in STEM is the gender pay gap. In the United States, women working in STEM earn an average of 26% less than their male counterparts. This pay gap can significantly impact a woman's career, particularly in terms of promotions and raises.

There are several ways to address this issue to ensure you are fairly compensated. One is to begin negotiating for higher wages when first hired into a position so that your baseline salary is fair, to begin with. Another is to keep track of your accomplishments and ensure you are paid somewhat relative to your male colleagues. Tracking all your work in a private document will be a great way to quantify your actions during review time. Finally, support other women in STEM to collectively close the gender pay gap. Uplift women wherever you can, as their win is also your win!

Lack of Female Role Models

Another challenge women face in STEM is the lack of female role models. In many STEM fields, women are outnumbered by men, and finding mentors and role models who look like you can be challenging. This can make it difficult to feel confident and supported in your career.

One way to overcome this challenge is to seek out online and in-person communities of women in STEM. These communities can provide support and advice from other women who have faced similar challenges. Additionally, several programs and initiatives seek to increase the number of women in STEM fields. Connecting with these programs can help you find mentors and role models who can support your career. Pearson notes that working with a mentor is essential for all women in STEM, as you will get personalized advice from someone who has been through the same journey. 

The Challenges of Work-Life Balance

Another significant challenge faced by women in STEM is the challenge of work-life balance. Because STEM careers can be demanding, finding time for family, friends, and other essential aspects of your life can be difficult. This challenge is compounded by the fact that women are still the primary caregivers for children and elderly family members.

How can you achieve this coveted work-life balance? One way is to create a support network of family and friends who can help with childcare and other responsibilities. Be bold and lean on your partner and family to help out every once in a while so that you're not risking burnout from trying to do it all. Another is to take advantage of flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or work-from-home options. Finally, making time for yourself and your personal interests outside of work is essential. Investing in mindfulness and self-care practices like gratitude, meditation, and working out will go a long way in making you feel fulfilled and ready to take on the many responsibilities on your plate. 

Finding a Job That Caters to Your Strengths

It's no secret that the STEM industry is male-dominated. In fact, women only make up a small percentage of the workforce in fields like engineering and computer science. This lack of diversity can make it difficult for women to find rewarding and fulfilling jobs in STEM. However, it's important to remember that there are many different ways to contribute to the STEM field. If you possess strong writing skills, for example, you could consider writing books or textbooks on STEM topics. This would help to make STEM more accessible and understandable for everyone. Alternatively, if you're passionate about education, you could become a STEM teacher. This would allow you to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Whatever path you choose, remember that finding a job in STEM that plays to your strengths is essential for both your career and the advancement of the field as a whole.

Business cards are a surprisingly powerful tool when it comes to finding your dream job. In today's competitive and often crowded job market, having a business card with your name and contact information is a great way to stand out from other applicants. They also show potential employers that you take yourself seriously as a professional and that you’re ready for the challenges of the working world. To create a business card, use an online tool. When looking for a template that you can adapt by adding your own copy, fonts, images, and colors, here's a possible solution to create your business card design.

The Impact of Bias and Negative Stereotypes

Unfortunately, bias and discrimination are still common in many STEM fields. Women of color, LGBTQIA+ women, and women with disabilities often face additional challenges in STEM due to the pervasive bias against these groups. These negative stereotypes can impact everything from hiring and promotions to the types of assignments you are given at work.

Fighting workplace bias is often easier said than done. You can stand up to this challenge by speaking up when you see or experience discrimination or bias. Working with your mentors and allies on how to do this will be the way to go, as it will be essential to maintain prudence so you don't risk your job. In addition, consulting a career coach or counselor will be a good solution, as they can provide personalized advice according to your unique work situation. Lastly, remember that you're not alone - unfortunately, this is an issue many women continue to face in the workplace.

The Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a challenge most women face in STEM. Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are not qualified or capable of doing your job, despite evidence to the contrary. This feeling can be widespread for women in STEM, who may feel like they have to prove themselves in a male-dominated field.

Addressing imposter syndrome can be hard, as it involves doing a lot of deep inner work. The biggest strategy to overcome this is to maintain an overarching image of everything you’ve accomplished and concrete steps you’ve taken to get to where you are. This can put into perspective all you’re capable of. In addition, work on your confidence through positive self-talk and meditation. The more your confidence increases, the more likely you are to believe that you are capable and qualified. 

Taking Initiative

Are you facing difficulties in getting hired? This is a common phenomenon in STEM, where women are a minority and regularly discriminated against. The lack of opportunities and recruitment can be incredibly disheartening. 

What can you do about it? It may be time to start your business in your STEM-specialty field, especially if you have always dreamt of being your own boss. This is a great way to experience fulfillment and follow your passions while still earning well for you and your family. To begin the process, be sure to get started on creating a business plan. Your business plan should include details on how you'll sell your services and structure your business, as well as funding projections and company descriptions. 

Pay special consideration to how you structure your business. An LLC is a good choice, as it provides personal asset protection, which allows you to identify your separate business and personal assets. Also, when it comes to taxes, an LLC is incredibly flexible. Keep in mind that you’ll need to name a registered agent to communicate with tax agencies and the government and receive important documents. 

Ready to take on your career? While navigating a male-dominated workplace can be daunting, try to remember that things are starting to change for the better. Employment is increasing, discrimination is reducing, and women are beginning to feel confident in their incredible abilities. You can even start your own business. You've got this!

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