STEM careers are responsible for almost every innovation known to humankind. They are essential for improving society on all fronts, whether it be by increasing quality of life, creating more efficient technology, or lessening our impact on the environment. The jobs that exist in the world of STEM are very diverse, stretching over multiple fields and many disciplines. The same unfortunately can not be said for the workers in STEM. When analyzing the statistics of STEM employment, women are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields. According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 48% of women are employed in the workforce, but only 27% of employed women work in STEM fields. Additionally, women in STEM receive a lower salary when compared to men for the same position. It is essential that more women are represented in the STEM field, as this would increase diversity and lead to only more innovations in society.
Even in the face of underrepresentation and inequity, women have made tremendous contributions to the STEM world, especially in the field of solid waste management. Solid Waste is an issue that is constantly evolving as new technologies and strategies emerge. It is a problem that must be addressed, but it is also a breeding ground for innovative solutions to resource use. The goal of combating solid waste is to create materials that can be recirculated into the production line to limit raw resource extraction and energy usage. Most successful strategies to this challenge involve integrating technology to maximize recirculation. Cofounders and engineers Katherine Shayne and Dr. Jenna Jambeck realized the potential of this strategy to create a women-owned business that prioritizes gender equity, environmental stewardship, and sustainable business practices. Here at CIRT, we use technology to digitize recycling information and ultimately increase recirculation of reusable products. We ultimately hope to revolutionize the world of recycling informatics and inspire more women to lead the future and join the STEM workforce.