How To Stay Strong Throughout Your STEM Career


Roughly 56 per cent of women drop out of technology roles by the 15-year mark in their career. A staggering percentage particularly at a time when younger women in STEM are seeking career role models and mentors and companies are gasping for experienced talent. According to, there are currently over 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide and with an increasing number of technology jobs (or roles requiring a technically savvy employee) on the horizon (an estimated 1 million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them by 2020 according to, employers are fixated on filling the talent pipeline, reaching back as far as elementary and middle school with initiatives to engage a future workforce (in the search for a location for its second headquarters, Amazon listed the educational qualifications of the population as one of the determining factors in the selection criteria).

But what about the talent that already out there, not the 56 per cent – rather the 44 per cent who are steadfastly remaining, in spite of the odds? What are the ways to hold or grow that number? Is there a way to partially address the impending tech talent shortage, other than being completely fixated on the talent “pipeline” problem?

Julie Elberfeld Senior Vice President, Shared Technology and Executive Sponsor of Diversity and Inclusion for Technology, Capital One and a member of Forbes’ Technology Council is fixated on the “44 per cent”. A question she frequently poses is “What about the 44% of women who stay in tech?”.

With much of the attention at women in tech conferences (such as Grace Hopper Celebration) on attracting new talent, I’ve shifted my focus to the “44 per cent”. What’s the guidance, words of wisdom (or a sprinkling of stay-in-the-game encouragement) from tech professionals who in spite of the odds, have stayed the course in their careers (and those who plan on keeping their careers focused on tech).

Stop Planning Every Single Career Move And Just Say Yes!

ThoughtWorks’ Chief Talent Officer, Joanna Parke encourages women to embrace every interesting career opportunity that comes their way. Parke lives her own advice. In her 15 years at ThoughtWorks, she has held 11 different roles and almost none of which were planned for. Attaining new skills (a prerequisite in a new role) is the curiosity problem-solving spark many of us continually need in our careers. Don’t wait to be selected. Actively seek out projects that intrigue you or ignite an interest.