As the mom of a daughter who is a pre-med/STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) student, I’m always excited to be a part of discussions around advancing women in STEM careers. That’s why I was thrilled when Mediaplanet, a media company that specializes in producing niche content media and marketing campaigns, asked Women in Retail Leadership Circle to partner with it on a piece about women in retail technology for its recently published Retail Technology supplement.

The supplement, which appeared online as well as in USA Today newspapers on March 30, focused on how the retail industry as a whole — from manufacturing to supply chain to customer experience — has undergone major changes over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how technology such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality has helped retailers survive and thrive during this challenging time.

It also featured a section on how women can help other women lead the way in retail technology, and that’s where we came in! I was delighted to discuss some of the phenomenal women I know in retail technology, as well ways to get more women into the retail technology leadership pipeline. After all, as retail continues to become more digital, STEM roles are becoming essential to the industry. Currently, however, there’s a huge gender gap in STEM professions, with men dominating the fields and fewer women working in technology and other STEM-related fields today than there were 10 years ago.

Here are just a few ideas featured in the report on how to get more women into the retail technology leadership pipeline:

  • Start speaking to girls in their early teens about STEM careers. Make them aware of all the opportunities out there and how to properly prepare for them. Women in STEM can also act as role models, partnering with schools to speak at or developing STEM-based programs, which ultimately help to normalize the concept.
  • Young women in tech interested in moving up the corporate ladder should find mentors and sponsors or join networking groups where they can meet other women in tech. These kinds of connections are invaluable as they can offer women in tech professional advice, as well as information about job opportunities or opportunities for advancement.
  • Finally, recognize our own unconscious biases towards promoting STEM to boys and not girls, and work toward fixing it.