Here’s our STEM Women on G+ Hangout with Google+’s Chief Architect, Yonatan Zunger, co-hosted by Buddhini Samarasinghe and me. We had limited time and we could have easily spoken longer. I was especially interested to hear Yonatan speak about his personal journey to learn additional leadership skills to support diversity, such as active listening.
I see that many individuals are invested in supporting women in STEM, which is heartening, but this often means taking a personal interest to read more on the issue, as Yonatan has done. My interest as a sociologist is how to improve these individual efforts to build a critical mass. How do we better maximise and pool our collective efforts to achieve broader change?
I’m a big advocate of mandatory equity and diversity training within organisations. I also see that issues of inequality for women and other minorities need to move into a central place within all the STEM fields. These matters need to be addressed earlier in research and applied careers, so that they are not marginal topics that we debate later. Instead, the conversation we’re having with STEM Women is: things are unequal, what are we going to do about it?
How Male Leaders can Help Women in Tech & Engineering
In case you missed it, you can rewatch our Hangout on Air with Yonatan Zunger in the video above. Yonatan spoke about the importance of active listening to team members. This means being aware that women in tech and engineering face unique challenges, and providing a space for them to talk about and address these problems.
Yonatan also spoke about creating an inclusive environment by modelling positive behaviour, and demonstrating that negative behaviour will not be tolerated. He also discussed the importance of providing ongoing feedback and publicly validating women’s contribution to their teams. This is important to bolstering women’s confidence in areas where they are a minority, as well as improving the internal dynamics of their team.
Public recognition is also central to recruitment campaigns to make STEM more diverse. It means companies should make it explicit and clear: We love having women on our team. We have a safe place for you.