It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industry. Though they earn half of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, only 29 percent of employees in the science and engineering fields are women. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to changing this reality and recognizes the great value in having diversity and inclusion at all levels and career paths.
IT Manager Joyce Anderson is proud to be a part of Blue Cross’ efforts to increase female representation in the STEM industry. Anderson notes that underrepresentation may be a deterrent for women to create their own path in IT. “This is why coaching and transparency are so important in breaking through that hesitation,” says Anderson.
This isn’t just lip service. Anderson mentors colleagues in Blue Cross’ “Connections” program as well as students in Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business and College Prep programs.
“It’s essential for women to have a support network at all levels of their career, to understand that it’s okay to ask for help and to take part in character- and network-building opportunities,” says Anderson. “Whether it’s a formal mentor, or simply getting a quick piece of advice from someone they respect, it can help make the picture of your next career step a little clearer.”
She truly believes the benefits of mentorship go in both directions. “Mentorship is so impactful because you’re getting as much as you give,” says Anderson. “I’ve learned more about myself from the transparency I’ve had to exhibit with my mentees.”
One factor Anderson attributes her professional success to is Blue Cross’ commitment to employee development, especially the company’s 73 percent female workforce. “I think Blue Cross is the greatest company to work for,” says Anderson, who recently celebrated her 29th service anniversary. “Employee Resource Networks like our P.O.W.E.R. group (Professional Optimistic Women Exploring Resources) have become a safe place. It has been instrumental in bringing awareness to what it means to be a woman in STEM.”
Anderson says women who are unsure about pursuing a career in IT should get to know their options, educate themselves and be fueled by their passion. “It’s okay to feel a slight apprehension, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward,” says Anderson. “Take your time to learn about the industry and the wide variety of careers you can pursue. There are so many IT jobs that aren’t on many peoples’ radars that can be lucrative in job satisfaction and compensation.”
She also notes that remaining relevant is key. “IT is an ever-growing, rapidly evolving field, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest news and trends,” says Anderson. “Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant. Create relationships that promote your forward movement and embrace what’s bigger than you.”
Learn more about the Blue Cross IT team by visiting these MI Blues Perspectives blogs: