26 October 2023 · 2 min read
Women in Computer Science: How STEM can promote inclusivity
We recently interviewed Valéria Soldera Girelli, a Junior Research Engineer at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, to gain valuable insights in the obstacles women face in STEM fields.
Societal norms play a pivotal role in discouraging women from pursuing careers in STEM. She highlighted the impact of childhood socialization, where predefined gender roles dictate what toys and activities are deemed suitable for boys or girls. These ingrained stereotypes often deter young girls from envisioning themselves in fields traditionally dominated by men. Without adequate representation, aspiring female engineers, scientists, and technologists face an uphill battle, struggling to identify with a predominantly male workforce.
"If there are no women in these fields, how can I look at a career and be encouraged to pursue it? If I don’t see people like me [...] this field might not be a safe space for me.”
However, Ms. Soldera remains optimistic about the role of representation in reshaping the landscape, thanks to initiatives like the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) program at BSC. By showcasing women thriving in tech, these initiatives instill confidence and a sense of belonging in female students. Ms. Soldera emphasized the significance of continued efforts, both within institutions and from external stakeholders, to promote diversity and dismantle the systemic barriers obstructing women's advancement in the tech industry.
“It might be cliché, but representation is an important thing. I know many women and many people from minority backgrounds that ended up just not finishing courses because there wasn't a safe place for them.”
Ms. Soldera also highlighted the pivotal role of soft skills such as effective communication, teamwork, and adaptability in her professional journey. Through the WiCS initiative, she not only acquired technical proficiency but also honed her abilities to collaborate and communicate effectively within a diverse team. Her experience serves as a testament to the invaluable role of holistic skill development in fostering a dynamic and inclusive work environment.
“Every day I see that stuff that I learned working and organizing with other women helped me do my job in a more adequate way.”
As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Ms. Soldera’s perspective serves as a call for comprehensive measures to foster inclusivity and equal opportunities for women in STEM. With concerted efforts and initiatives like WiCS, we can pave the way for a more equitable and diverse future in the realm of science and technology.
“If we keep pushing the companies and government and institutions, from outside and from inside, to build protocols to prevent and to fight these gender problems that we have, then this will slowly solve the problem [...] but we need to keep pushing.”