June 24, 2024

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5 Ways To Become A Role Model In STEM

Gretchen Philyaw on location

In my travels, I often meet professional women that ask how to get involved in professional organizations or which ones to join?  Other than the obvious, USA Loves Manufacturing, on the top of my list is STEM for Women.

One of the top needs for US based manufacturing and tech companies is more women in STEM.

For the revolution to happen for the current generation of women joining the workforce there will need to be a lot of role models leading the way for these young women.  These role models will light the way and provide the courage. Here are some thoughts on how I see this happening.

Exemplify curiosity in all things

Imperative to being a role model is the courage to show others a willingness to go outside the norm.  Be willing to blaze a path that others may follow or prove that going off the well beaten path is okay and perhaps necessary to achieve great things.  Staying within the lines or rules often expected of women or anyone really will not change history.

Amelia Earhart once said “Women, like men, should try to do the impossible.  And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.”

Role models need to prove that curiosity is a gift that needs to be explored.

Demonstrating failure is necessary

The world is not perfect.  All great things accomplished did not happen on the first try.  Role models need to show humility and own their mistakes.   Breaking down the misconception that failing is not an option is a necessary component of success.  Role models have to be recognized for the shots missed or games lost, not just the game winners.

Thomas Edison was a humble man.  He once said that “I have gotten lots of results!  I know several thousand things that won’t work!”

Encourage and emit positivity

What if more women in STEM highlighted the exciting and innovative moments that they experience? What if more women posted on social media the positive and exciting moments of being an engineer or their jobs working in manufacturing or technology? Do you think it would change the perceptions of young women considering careers in STEM?  Would it give them the drive to move forward?

We need to Engage, Excite, Educate and Elevate our youth to give them the courage to pursue this path and succeed in this amazing and wide open industry. America NEEDS them to engage thus we need to engage more.

Reflect confidence and self awareness

The entire point of being a role model is leading from the front.   Getting in front of young people.   We need to give them the chance to observe what success looks like.  Role models can’t be too busy or too important–You have to be real.  You have to share yourself with others for this to work.

Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In  said “being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”

Role models need to be a mirror to young people and show them what they can become.  This is the most important job for a role model.

Challenge the norm

In order to knock down the walls of exclusion, force is required.   Change will require physics.   Remember, matter does not move unless it encounters opposing forces.

Our force is our commitment for active change. We cannot sit back and talk about it. Role models must actively become the force that changes the course of history. Bumps, bruises and scratches may be involved but positive change in STEM requires all role models to commit to making a difference in the lives of young people. This requires action and leadership.

Demand for role models today is greater than ever before.  America’s thirst for those with STEM skills has never been greater. Getting more young people involved and engaged with STEM is going to shape what America becomes. There is no way to ignore this fact.  I believe in this change and “I” believe in the USA.

Let’s get busy role models. We have some work to do.




About the Author: Gretchen Philyaw is President of Magenta Technologies LLC, an Atlanta-based industrial automation company and founder 0f USA Loves Manufacturing, an organization promoting and advocating USA manufacturing and technology.

Gretchen envisioned an organization that would support the manufacturing & technology arena and lift up the people that make it happen everyday.




Picture of By Gretchen Philyaw

By Gretchen Philyaw

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