Woman working on a computer

STEM is a popular acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. Currently there are only 28% women in STEM professions in the US and statistics show that 40% of them leave STEM within first 5 years of joining the workforce.

Per 2019 Census Data, there are currently 3.024 Million Women in STEM workforce in the US. But there will be over 9 million more STEM jobs by 2022 which makes it important that we share more resources to retain and grow the number of women in STEM.

One of the reasons women cite for leaving STEM careers is lack of visibility and career growth plans. After interviewing over 150 women in STEM for my podcast and coaching another 100 women I have first handed collected this feedback and frustration this problems creates in this niche and minority community.

Organizations have a long way to go and the recent ESG trends will drive organizations to change faster than before, but while these big ships AKA corporations try to change course, the question is what can we do to change the course of our careers in STEM.

Here are three simple steps you can use to plan and secure your next promotion in STEM.

1. Check your existing performance feedback

Go to the last 3 years of your performance reports, make a summary of your performance growth.

a. Analyze Your Performance Ratings. – 3/5 or 4/5 or 3/4 every organization does this differently but most of them will give some kind of marking or overall rating. Gather them from last 2-3 years and analyze the trend of your performance.

b. Find Top Three Projects – Analyze the top three projects you have delivered on in the last few years. Make sure you pull the exact data on the deliverables and tasks that you did. This is like evidence collection that you can further use to strengthen your application for promotion or a new role.

c. Gather Manager Feedback – Every year your manager probably leaves you a detailed feedback. Analyze this feedback to analyze your strength and weaknesses.

2. Explore The Internal Job Postings

Do your homework and do an in-depth research in the open roles within the organization before planning to ask a promotion. Promotions within the same role may not always be available, so its critical to do your research and find your next role within the organization.

This role should be in the next job band or pay grade level to help you make a lucrative move. Try to find roles that are in your area of expertise or where you think you can bring the most value.

Another way to identify these opportunities is to talk to people who are currently in similar roles and find out what the role entails and what advice they might have for you. Finding relatable role models is the best way to visualize yourself growing in your career too.

The best thing about internal positions is that they offer more flexibility on the skills side and can be easy to mold into because of your existing network within the organization and your familiarity with the company systems.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

3. Create A Plan For The Next 3-6 Months

Instead of rushing to application mode or getting frustrated about the delay in promotion, take a more strategic approach to create a detailed plan for the next 3-6 months. Planning for a shorter term with specific steps can help you execute better and accomplish the result you wish to achieve.

Its critical to include the findings from step 1 & 2 into your planning process. The beauty of this approach is that you can copy paste these steps at any stage of your career and these can help you fight workplace biases because you will lead all your attempts from a data driven approach.

To plan the next steps, start by deciding 2-3 non-negotiable items, you can start by using common ones like Location, Salary and Title. This means you will set these three per your goals and won’t change them in the next 3-6 months. These non negotiable items can act as your North Star throughout your career.

Don’t Wait, Act Fast

Once you are equipped with all this amazing data then act, don’t delay, don’t worry too much just take the first step in faith. Set up a call with your manager, share with them the case you have to prove that you are qualified and share with them your ambition. Tell them why this promotion matters to you and how you are committed to growing within the organization and adding value the best way you can.

Bring up the constant performance data to back up your ask and tell them which internal roles you’d be interested in pursuing. Stay open minded during this conversation and get buy-in that they are committed to your professional growth as much as you are.

If they seem on board, then ask them to help you build a career plan, next steps and realistic timelines for securing this promotion. Be clear, concise and passionate about your ask and don’t hesitate from saying your mind.

Finally, if you have a mentor at work, run the same thing with them before presenting to your manager and get their input. This can help you refine your presentation even more.

In conclusion, you are the master of your career and if you take more strategic approach, you will be surprised where you can create new opportunities. Remember as you create space for yourself, you are also creating space for others to follow your path.

Author: Prasha Dutra is the Global Deputy D&I Leader for Prysmian Group, Founder Her STEM Consulting LLC & the host, Her STEM Story Podcast.