How embracing different perspectives fuels better innovation.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” – Malcolm Forbes, publisher of Forbes Magazine

The statistics around women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields can be surprising. According to MIT, only 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees are awarded to women. From there, their participation in STEM roles drops even lower: only 13% of the engineering workforce is female (a number that has actually gone down since 2012, when it was 14%, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee).

The Washington Post reports that a big part of the problem is simply attracting women into the field to begin with.

DIS-TRAN – which is an Equal Opportunity Employer – is committing to finding, attracting and leveraging the best talent in the field without regard to factors like gender. “We actually have a fairly good number of women currently. As a company, we stay diversified,” says Holly Wilson, a Design Engineer at DIS-TRAN. “But you just don’t see a lot of women in engineering at large.”

Which is unfortunate, because organizations in every industry can benefit from a diverse workforce that can generate new and different ideas in the face of business challenges.

That, in turn, can help spur out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions to customer problems. That’s something DIS-TRAN cares deeply about: when our people can generate ideas from many different avenues, it supports the kind of innovation that leads to breakthrough products like the pre-fabricated bus (PFB) and storm-hardened elevated substations. We didn’t come up with those and similar solutions by thinking like everyone else, and that means our team members can’t all think like each other.

So, how can organizations support women in STEM fields?

Holly says that providing mentoring support and opportunities for advancement for an organization’s female engineers and designers can help bolster their success. DIS-TRAN does this, in part, through leadership development programs like “Rising Stars,” which is designed to give all participants experiences and exposure to skills development opportunities outside of the normal scope of work.

Asked for advice for female job applicants, Holly says, “Be yourself, be confident, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.  She jokes that engineers are never wrong: “You’d think we were lawyers to hear us in open discussions! But in the end, we work together as a team.”