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Level Up! Women Growing in STEM: Expanding Your Role vs. Climbing the Ladder

Updated: May 1

Hey there, phenomenal STEMinist! 


Ever feel stuck at a crossroads? You've conquered your current role, but what's next? Do you envision yourself as a boss, strategizing from the top floor, or a bonafide subject matter expert (SME), a guru in your niche?


The truth is, there's no single "right" answer. Like you, career paths are as unique as those of the women who forge them. Today, we'll delve into the juicy details of both options: expanding your current role and pursuing leadership positions. Think of it as your personal roadmap to ruling the STEM world, on your terms!


Expanding Your Role: Deep Dives and Expertise

Let's face it: some of us crave that intellectual challenge, the thrill of becoming the ultimate authority in a specific area. This path is all about honing your expertise and becoming the go-to person for complex problems. Imagine being the code whisperer, the queen of data analysis, the engineering mastermind everyone seeks for sage advice. Sounds pretty darn empowering, doesn't it?

What it Means to Expand:

  • Deep Specialization: Dive deeper into your technical skillset, mastering specific areas within your field. This could involve additional training, certifications, or even pursuing a specialized graduate degree.

  • Project Leadership: Take charge of complex projects, leading teams towards groundbreaking solutions. This allows you to leverage your expertise while fostering collaboration and mentorship.

  • Innovation Champion: Become the driving force behind your team or department's innovation. Think outside the box, propose new ideas, and champion the development of cutting-edge solutions.

Challenges of Expansion:

  • Limited Promotions: While your expertise is valued, promotions might be less frequent on this path. However, this doesn't mean a lack of growth! Recognition can come in the form of salary increases, project leadership opportunities, and industry recognition as a leading SME.

  • Staying Relevant: The world of STEM is ever-evolving. To stay on top of your game, you need to be committed to continuous learning and upskilling.

Women Growing in STEM
Expanding your Role vs. Climbing the Ladder

Climbing the Ladder: Leadership Ascendancy

For some of you, the call to leadership is undeniable. You yearn to guide teams, set strategic direction, and make a tangible impact on a larger scale. This path is about honing your soft skills, mastering communication, delegation, and strategic thinking. Think Sheryl Sandberg and Marie Curie—women who shattered glass ceilings and paved the way for future generations.

What Climbing the Ladder Entails:

  • Management Responsibilities: Leading teams, delegating tasks, and fostering a positive and productive work environment.

  • Strategic Thinking: Developing long-term plans, aligning your team's goals with organizational objectives, and making strategic decisions.

  • Communication & Influence: Articulating complex ideas clearly, inspiring and motivating your team, and advocating for your vision effectively.

Challenges on the Leadership Climb:

  • Work-Life Balance: Leadership roles often come with increased workload and demands. Developing strategies for maintaining a healthy balance between your career and personal life is crucial.

  • Imposter Syndrome: You might experience self-doubt, questioning your qualifications for the role. Remember, women in STEM often face this phenomenon more than men. Combat it by focusing on your achievements and the value you bring.

So, How Do You Choose? 3 Strategies to Find Your Path

Alright, here are three powerful strategies to help you decide which path ignites your fire:


1. Self-Awareness is Key:  Grab a pen and some paper (or your favorite note-taking app) and do some serious soul-searching. What energizes you? Do you thrive on tackling complex technical challenges or guiding teams towards a common goal? Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a natural leader with flawless communication skills, or do you get butterflies in your stomach when thinking about the intricacies of your technical expertise?

2. Shadow and Observe:  Talk to inspiring women in STEM who have chosen either path. Shadow them for a day, ask insightful questions, and observe their work style. Experience firsthand what a day in their shoes feels like.

3. Seek Mentorship:  Find a mentor who can offer guidance, different perspectives, and support as you navigate your career journey. Ideally, find a mentor who has walked a similar path, a woman in STEM who can provide valuable insights and encouragement.


Remember, my dear STEMinist, there's no wrong answer. The most important thing is to choose a path that aligns with your values, goals and what brings you genuine fulfillment. The world needs brilliant minds like yours, whether you choose to be a technical guru or a phenomenal leader. Embrace your strengths, leverage your expertise, and carve your unique path in the ever-evolving world of STEM.


The future of STEM is bright, and you are a vital part of it. So, go forth, conquer your path, and leave your indelible mark on the world!


Career Growth Vision Board Template
Conquer Your Career Crossroads Vision Board Template

Now, let's get down to business! Are you at a crossroads regarding what path to choose? What are some of the challenges you face in your career journey? Don't know if you want to be a technical guru or a phenomenal leader?


This is exactly where our FREE downloadable "Conquer Your Career Crossroads" Vision Board Template comes in!






Stay fierce, stay brilliant, and keep conquering!


The path for women in STEM remains an ongoing journey.  Even today, women can face unique challenges – navigating the field, balancing work-life demands, or simply feeling unseen.  If you're a woman in STEM feeling stuck or unfulfilled, you're not alone.

LM (Linda Macelová) Consulting, a career coaching service, can help you reignite your passion and identify a fulfilling path within STEM.  Together, we can develop strategies to overcome obstacles, build confidence, and achieve your career goals.

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