In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to take a moment to shed light on the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and pay tribute to all of the women in STEM professions today.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, women make up only 28% of the STEM workforce, with men significantly outnumbering women majoring in most university STEM programs. There’s an even greater disparity in female representation in quantum startups, which hovers around 10%.
This is a gender gap that we at SandboxAQ are determined to close because we believe building a workforce that welcomes and champions women – and diversity of all kinds – is critical to making the AI + Quantum (AQ) revolution possible.
So in celebration of Women’s History Month, we invited some of the incredible women of SandboxAQ to share glimpses of their AQ journeys. One common thread is that these women, though they came to SandboxAQ through a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, are all motivated by AQ’s potential to make a positive impact on the world.
Just as important as an inspiring mission is a community that fosters intellectual curiosity and continuous education. “I don't have the math and science background that many of my peers do, which makes it all more challenging, but I feel so lucky to be in a position where I have the time and space to learn and grow,” said Allie Eichenbaum, SandboxAQ’s Head of Ecosystem. “The learning curve toward understanding AQ has been steep and I wouldn't have it any other way.”
Early mentors are also important, according to Quantum Sensing Postdoc Dr. Madelaine Liddy. “My father is an engineer and out of four kids, two of us are engineers–both women–and he really encouraged us as kids. He's just one example of a role model who influenced me as a kid to pursue STEM.”
Strong mentors remain essential throughout one’s professional development. Dr. Kit Yee Au-Yeung, General Manager of Quantum Sensing, emphasized the additional struggles immigrants such as herself face. Now she is passionate about mentoring others from similar backgrounds. “I moved from Hong Kong to the U.S. when I was 16 because my mom firmly believes in education and how women should and need to be able to stand on their own,” said Dr. Au-Yeung. “Because of that, I always have a soft spot for talented female immigrants who had to work extra hard to be accepted in a new culture.”
Each of the women at SandboxAQ provides invaluable contributions to this emerging field. We’re dedicated to continuing to close the gender gap in STEM and AQ. Here are some of our recent and upcoming efforts in support of this mission:
Diversity in Quantum Dinner, Feb. 16, 2023: Co-hosted by SandboxAQ, Trinity College Dublin, and DiviQ, this event included a keynote by Anne Sheehan, General Manager of Microsoft Ireland, as well as a panel discussion focused on the importance and challenges of diversity in quantum. Read about the event in our blog.
TechTrek Summer Camp 2023:Tech Trek is an exciting and engaging one-week summer camp for girls featuring hands-on science and technology classes, a fun and educational field trip, opportunities to meet inspiring role models, and a unique college campus experience. In addition to SandboxAQ sponsorship support, the women of SandboxAQ are excited to volunteer their time to create and deliver engaging AQ-related activities, and offer career advice and mentorship to Tech Trek campers this summer.
“I feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to the next generation to do better when it comes to addressing inequities,” said Dr. Marianna Bonanome, Head of Education Outreach at SandboxAQ, who is organizing both initiatives. “It is up to us, as women and scientists, to create inclusive and safe work environments, provide more opportunities for underrepresented communities in STEM to grow personally and professionally, to remove barriers to success, and to build a solid and supportive community while doing so.”
Thank you to all of the SandboxAQ team members who shared their AQ journeys and to the dozens of brilliant women on our team working to make AQ the transformative technology it promises to be.