Closing the gap: Working toward gender parity in tech
Closing the gap: Working toward gender parity in tech6 minutes
With five Olympic gold medals and fifteen world championship gold medals, Team Panasonic member Katie Ledecky is world renowned for her athletic achievements in swimming. But education has always been her first passion. In fact, it’s the drive to continuously learn and improve that Ledecky credits for her success both in and out of the pool.
Now, she’s taking her passion for education to the next level with her Dive Into STEM Education program, powered by Panasonic. The program, which encourages students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), kicked off last week at Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, California, where Ledecky was the keynote speaker. From there, the program will expand to other communities such as Newark, New Jersey; Reno, Nevada; and the Washington, DC, area.
Through her Dive Into STEM Education initiative, Ledecky aims to make STEM opportunities available to the next generation of students – and to help close the gender gap in technology.
At Panasonic, we are committed to creating space for women – not just in our organization, but within the larger tech community. In addition to supporting Ledecky’s STEM program, The Panasonic Foundation also recently contributed $25,000 to Girls Build, an initiative run by the L.A. Promise Fund that challenges young women from public middle and high schools across the country to make a positive impact in their community.
We believe this type of educational outreach is essential to bridging the gender gap in technology because 97% of girls will lose interest in STEM topics if they are not engaged by the 5th grade according to Educational Consultant Dr. Kenneth Wesson. By providing students with an opportunity to immerse themselves in STEM early in life, they will attain a competitive advantage in the 21st-century job market.
Employee Story: Abby Chitwood
While the tech community works with educators to build a pipeline of talent by reaching girls at a young age and getting them excited about STEM fields, there is another barrier to entry that must be addressed. Nearly half of women who earn degrees in engineering either quit or never enter the profession, according to a data from the National Center of Education Statistics. So, we can create a better talent pipeline that introduces girls to STEM subjects early on, but if we do not address the underlying issues that are currently deterring qualified women from entering and remaining in STEM fields, that pipeline will never achieve its full potential.
At Panasonic, we’re dedicated to engaging with our employees and empowering them to have rich, diverse careers. When engineers join the company, they work with their managers to determine professional goals and explore various opportunities ahead through strategically designed career frameworks.
The idea behind our engineering career frameworks is keep our employees engaged, not only with the company but with their own futures as well. This program is designed to give our engineers a professional track suited to their skills and interest – and to keep them moving forward.
Employee story: Celina Mikolajczak
A major barrier that women face across many professions is a lack of role models. Across the board, women are underrepresented in leadership roles. At Panasonic, we’re immensely proud of our female leaders and committed to creating more opportunities for women to lead in our company.
To help address the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles, Panasonic hosts an employee-run group called Women Connect. The group encourages women – and others – to find connections outside of their area of work for broader professional guidance and mentorship. We also host diversity-geared networking events for professionals with managerial experience.
Employee story: Sarah Eales
At the end of the day, gender parity in the workplace isn't just about providing women with more professional opportunities – it’s also about fostering creativity and innovation. Bringing together employees with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives enables teams to develop products and solutions that better meet the needs of an increasingly diverse customer base.
As technology becomes more integral to our everyday lives, it's important to consider diverse perspectives to ensure that we are truly creating a better world for everyone. At Panasonic, we are committed to doing our part.