Three Tips for Women in Love With STEM

Did you know women make up nearly 50% of our workforce, but only 23% of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related jobs?

Karen Purcell, founder, owner and president of electrical engineering, design and consulting firm PK Electrical, believes the only way to break this trend is for women to find support amongst peers in their communities.

"Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who have similar goals can help build your confidence exponentially," said Purcell. "In contributing valuable advice to respected peers in the forum setting, you become increasingly confident about presenting yourself as credible to your partners, clients and superiors."

Purcell writes in her most recent book, "Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," that women should identify themselves with a group that fits their passions. Talking to people to find what groups they are involved in will help women determine a group that's a good fit for them, she said.

There are several things to consider when researching different groups of interest. Purcell said it's important to find a group that supports and encourages you to meet other in your chosen STEM field.

Here are three tips for selecting a group that matches your core goals:

1. Find the right leader by making sure they lead the group properly and are committed to the team. A good group leader will create a positive and encouraging environment all around.

2. Pay attention to fees and where the money is going. There are typical expenses that come with all organizations, but the deal breaker should be weather the fee will be a long term investment towards furthering your career.

3. Are the people a good fit for you? A significant amount of your time will be spent with the group you choose, so you will want to be sure you enjoy the personalities of those around you. It's important for you to feel like you can approach them with questions and trust them with your own beliefs.

Sarah Cechowski is the associate digital editor for Control Design and Industrial Networking. Email her at or check out her Google+ profile.