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Inclusion Leads to Innovation

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covid-19-telework-stem jobs-mathematical sciences-gender diversity

The Association for Women in Mathematics creates communities in which women and girls thrive in innovation, find role models, and prepare to lead.

In 2021, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enabled the rapid development of COVD-19 vaccines, made remote learning and telemedicine widely available, allowed new battery technologies for powering electric vehicles to be developed, provided for extremely accurate GPS, and much more.

Expansion of the digital economy will be driven by an increased prevalence of telework, by new products associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), and by the analysis and interpretation of large datasets. These demands will spur rapid employment growth for statisticians, information security analysts, and data scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that, over the next decade, computer and mathematical occupations will grow by around 33%, compared to 7.7% growth in the total number of occupations in the United States.

Promoting innovation

Women already hold nearly half of the STEM jobs in the United States, mostly as healthcare practitioners and technicians, yet only 26% of those employed in computer and mathematical sciences are women. Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous women are even more severely underrepresented. Now is the time to create a STEM culture in which all people can thrive, a culture in which we can all work together to innovate and to solve the world’s toughest challenges. Innovations are more likely and more robust when developed and tested by teams with diverse representation. Gender diversity is one factor shown to increase the collective intelligence of scientific working groups. Gender-diverse teams exhibit high levels of social perceptiveness and achieve greater equality in participation. 

To promote innovation, our classrooms and working teams must be welcoming and safe places for all perspectives, all genders, and all cultural experiences. We must acknowledge unconscious bias and resist stereotypes at every level, eliminate harassment and discrimination in all forms, and prioritize a work/life balance for ourselves and our colleagues. Beyond these essentials, we must create collaborative learning and working environments, actively build balanced and diverse teams and, crucially, promote women and traditionally underrepresented people to prominent positions. Representation matters. Role models matter. Community matters. 

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