Since 1987, our nation has celebrated Women's History Month each March, taking time to recognize the impact of women on the betterment of our society and our world.
Here, on the New Jersey Institute of Technology campus, we mark this month with a number of programs designed to highlight the contributions of women at our university, in professional fields and throughout society at large. We host panel discussions, networking events and other educational fora with the purpose of cultivating the talents of our female students and faculty while fostering mentorship, providing support systems and creating pathways for advancement. We do so to show respect and appreciation for the contributions women have made to our world, but also because the benefits are so significant for our future.
We also must be vigilant about the treatment of women throughout our campus community and beyond. Progress continues to be made in the equitable treatment of women but, as we realize daily, there is much more work to do.
We live in a world where technology is both inescapable and indispensable, and that world is rapidly changing due to technological innovation. All of our major global industries are driven by technology.
Whether in health care or communication or finance or transportation or any other industrial sector, all major business enterprises are, foundationally, technology companies. That’s because technological innovation is the primary catalyst for efficiency and product development in today’s economy. This has created high demand for employees in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and we cannot meet that demand without increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women studying and working in the STEM disciplines.
But the challenge goes beyond attracting significantly more women to these fields; we also must make certain there are ample opportunities for women to assume positions of leadership throughout the tech world. Historically, this has not been the case, and it has not been easy to turn that tide. The evidence is ample, however, that diversity of thought, skill, experience, and perspective at all levels of an organization and throughout any community is of great value.
We should be very proud that NJIT has been ranked by Diversity in Action magazine as one of the country’s “Top Institutions of Higher Learning Dedicated to STEM Diversity.” We should also be proud of the work of our Murray Center, which connects female students and faculty to one another and to the resources they need to achieve their goals.
Our Center for Pre-College Programs, which has been instrumental in growing the pipeline of prospective female and underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines, also plays a critical role on our campus and for our region. We still have a long way to go, both at NJIT and across all sectors, to successfully address the issues of inequitable treatment, gender and diversity gaps.
Joel S. Bloom is president
of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.