Only two or three decades ago, the trend in both primary and secondary schools was to offer boys metal shop, and girls home economics. It was assumed that the boys would need to know how to fix a car engine as adults, and the girls would need to maybe sew something. If you were a little girl who’d prefer to work on engines, you were pretty much out of luck, and perhaps resigned yourself to the task of fixing the stove in the home instead. There was little room to nurture and build a love of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) outside of whatever was offered as part of a basic education.
The change in that trend has been painfully slow. In the last year, only a quarter (23.1%) of computer and information systems professionals were women and one in seven (13.7%) of civil, mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineer jobs were held by women. Surprisingly, these figures aren’t isolated to the United States but are worldwide. And, of the women who do successfully achieve a degree in STEM fields, they made just 82.1% of the earnings of their male counterparts. 24 This needs to change. And I am here to help change it.
First and foremost, I am a mother. I have an amazing 9 -year-old daughter and being a mother has been one of the most rewarding experiences I will ever have. Having a family has also given me insight into what women face when trying to juggle education, careers, and family. It’s not uncommon for moms (and dads too!) to take large amounts of time off to raise their children. We wear many hats and often have to prioritize our goals and set careers aside temporarily. When we re-enter the workforce, we are still faced with managing home and career to more of an extent than our male colleagues are expected to, and the resources available to women re-entering the workforce has been lacking.
My own love of tech and engineering started at a young age. My father was an engineer and as a child I spent many hours with him, watching him build motherboards. All my life, I’ve had a natural curiosity and a mechanically inclined mind. I loved to learn how things were built by taking them apart and putting them back together. Now, as a parent to a daughter, I can share that love with her and nurture her own curiosity about how things work. My own STEM-minded kiddo is currently taking courses at Codeverse in Chicago, and the bond we have over our shared love of all things tech has been amazing. The generation of today is born into a technical age. Those gender-defined roles of the past century are coming to an end, as more and more bright, young minds are needed to move us forward in this ever-changing world.
My motivation to learn and to build has never gone away! I can honestly say that I’ve earned a Ph.D. in running my third company, Indigo Interactive (and thank god for my awesome team!) in all that I’ve gained while being a mom and an engineer. This is why Indigo has such a special place in my heart. At Indigo Interactive, our main mission is to create dynamic software and web applications for quality assurance organizations in higher education accreditation and healthcare compliance. We have been in the business and following this objective for over 20 years and our expertise, process understanding, and years of experience have taught us how to combine applications and platforms to maximize use of a purpose built automated system that will improve efficiency and productivity.
We are now the leading software provider in the accreditation industry and continue to innovate. We have worked with many organizations in donating time and services for good causes. And, being female owned with predominantly female technologists on staff, we are a bit of an anomaly in the tech world.
In the end, we’ve put together programs to give women that extra boost of confidence to revisit their career goals and we find incredible talent to add to our already wonderful culture.
Our program works basically like an apprenticeship/internship that offers paid re-entry into the workforce. We always have ongoing internships at Indigo where we offer 12 weeks pay to do the following:
- Offer job opportunities to candidates where most tech companies wouldn’t even consider
- Give candidates hands-on experience and training that is far superior to what is taught in school
- Provide a permanent full-time position with benefits when the internship is over
It’s a revolutionary approach to empowering women to seek meaningful and rewarding careers in STEM fields, and I am so proud of the work our team does.
Strong, empowered women build strong families, communities, and future for the world.
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Author: Helen Levinson