Air Date

February 28, 2024

Featured Guests

Tracey Cournoyer
CIO of Bond & Specialty Insurance, Travelers

Bronwyn Morgan
Founder and CEO, Xeo Air

Michelle Faison-Oldham
National Director, Federal Civilian, T-Mobile

Susan Warner
Vice President, Community Engagement, Mastercard


Kendra Gaither
President, U.S.-Africa Business Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce,


While STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) represents 24% of the U.S. workforce, only one-third of STEM professionals are women. This underrepresentation has driven an ongoing movement to increase gender diversity within the industry.  

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 14th annual International Women’s Day Forum, a panel of experts joined Kendra L. Gaither, the President of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in discussing the importance of females in STEM and how current leaders can inspire future generations.

Getting More Women in STEM Starts With Infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic brought virtualization and remote work capabilities, as well as significantly impacted workforce dynamics. This shift has further exacerbated the underrepresentation of women in STEM. 

“We've got to put together the systems and the infrastructure for women to succeed,” said Bronwyn Morgan, founder and CEO of Xeo Air. “We cannot solve the problems on this planet with just half of the world solving it, whether that half… is based on income or … gender. We've got to have everybody pulling together to move forward.”

Susan Warner, vice president of community engagement at Mastercard, believes a lack of visible role models hinders female participation in the field. To counter this, she says there needs to be an active effort to encourage girls to explore STEM, despite their interest in the field generally decreasing around fourth grade. 

“We have to keep the interest all the way through,” Warner said, “through mentoring [and] scholarships, and then get them into the workforce … [where they can] see those … role models … [and] see what they can be.”

Breaking Stereotypes Will Encourage the Next Generation of STEM

Building a space where women feel comfortable and accepted is key to engaging more women in STEM. However, doing so will require showing girls there is more to the field than the stereotypes portrayed on screen, which can dissuade women from pursuing careers in this sector.

“If you think about the computer person on TV, it's always the person in the basement hacking the government,” said Tracey Cournoyer, CIO of bond & specialty insurance at Travelers. “[But] there are women in STEM that look just like you, me, and everyone else. We have to show up and show women and girls what we can do.”

In addition to dismantling stereotypes, improving STEM’s appeal and accessibility through engaging and practical education will be crucial to attracting the next generation.

“This generation coming up … like[s] technology,” said Michelle Faison-Oldham, national director of federal civilian solution sales at T-Mobile. “Making it fun and interesting … [is] how we're going to keep them interested and staying in a STEM field.”