Last week we introduced At The Table, a new MicroStrategy initiative that's designed to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. This week, we wanted to take a deeper look at some of the major issues facing women in STEM, and what it takes to succeed.
We sat down with Joty Paparello, our Senior Vice President of Human Resources, who gave us some perspective and insight from what she’s seen over her 20+ year career. She also shared some advice for the women looking to break into the field of science and technology. Here's what she had to share:
- What do you think are the biggest issues and challenges facing women in male-dominated fields?
One of the biggest challenges that comes to mind is around accessibility to opportunity, particularly in regards to management and executive roles. There is this perception that women are not treated equally to their male counterparts, and that it’s impossible to break into the tight-knit male circle at the top of an organization. However, we need to remove that perception, not be discouraged by it, and campaign for ourselves. By breaking through, women can showcase their work to the decision makers who control how much responsibility they have or how quickly they are promoted. I also think that people—both men and women—need support within their organizations, but also in their homes and from their families, in order to succeed in the workplace. Over the past 10-15 years, many more resources have become available to families that allow parents to have a steady work and home life balance. This has been a huge factor in allowing women to advance in their careers.
- How have you seen women’s professional roles change over time, specifically since you started working in the technology industry at AOL back in 1998?
Since 1998, I have seen many more women move into leadership positions. I think companies are starting to ramp up the number of women they bring into their organizations to grow and develop their business. We may not be where we need to be just yet, but women are truly making huge strides. They are advocating for themselves, and are self-promoting their work in order to propel their careers forward.
- From an HR perspective, are there particularly important qualities that women interested in STEM careers should have?
Aside from math and science skills, it’s important to have an analytical and creative mindset when pursuing a career in STEM. Being a forward thinker will also benefit those entering the industry. Taking a step back for a moment, it’s important to realize that this is a massive industry that is only expected to continue to grow.
- Do you have any advice for women trying to break into a career in STEM?
Outside of the obvious advice to work hard, take on challenging projects, and present to audiences outside of their own companies, women need to focus on showcasing their accomplishments. Once in the field, always accept the offer to move into the next position when it’s available, and take time to learn how to resolve conflicts. On top of that, frequently attend leadership events, think about how you can mentor others, and take advantage of travel assignments. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged, and always keep pushing forward.
Interested in hearing more career advice? Join us at MicroStrategy World on April 18, where we will be hosting a women’s networking event from 3:30-5:30pm. This event, sponsored by MicroStrategy partner QueBIT, will bring together women from across the world of analytics to talk about their careers and how they got there. We're also hosting a 5K race on April 19 to benefit STEM for Her, a DC-area nonprofit that promotes opportunities for women in STEM-related fields. This event is sponsored by Datastrong. We hope to see you there!