Don't Quit!
Women of Color|Fall 2016

It’s a Great Time to Be in STEM Adapt, adjust, and modify, but don’t quit STEM, urged Dr. Pamela McCauley at the Women of Color STEM Conference.

Lango Deen 

McCauley is an ergonomics-biomechanics expert and award-winning engineering professor. She was speaking on biases pushing women out of the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) field, why women leave the tech industry, and the many factors driving them from science and engineering jobs.

Women were dropping out in droves by 2008, when the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) published a study, “The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology.”

According to the report, 52 percent of highly qualified women working for STEM companies quit their jobs, driven out by hostile environments, isolation, extreme work pressures, difficulty with executive presence, and a lack of clarity surrounding career paths.

Five years later, CTI found many of the barriers documented in their first report continue to daunt and demoralize women.

Although 80 percent of women in STEM in the United States said they love their work, a sizable proportion also said they were likely to quit their jobs within a year.

Women of Color magazine spoke to women executives about these workplace barriers through a lens refined by their own experiences.

DR. LISA WICKER Founder, Linwick & Associates, LLC

Lisa Wicker once managed Chrysler’s talent acquisition. After decades of success in HR and diversity roles with Fortune 500 companies, she started a global human resources firm based in Detroit, MI, and Charlotte, NC. Dr. Wicker has been voted “Ace Recruiter” and “One of the Most Successful Businesswomen in Detroit” by The Detroit News.

“I’ve read studies where the numbers of women in STEM are not where we thought they’d be in 2016,” Wicker said.

“Although the number of degreed women nationwide is higher, it doesn’t translate to the numbers in corporate hallways, even with demographics changing between the millennial generation and baby boomers. Perhaps our colleges have to look at how to prepare people better to navigate the challenges of a workforce dominated by men,” she said.

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