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Nici Bush: 5 Ways to Advocate for Women in STEM
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Nici Bush

At Mars, the actions we take today make an important impact on the world we want tomorrow. This is especially true for the inclusive culture we foster, because we know inclusivity makes our business stronger for the future. 

Nici Bush, the General Manager of Mars Symbioscience at Mars Edge, takes this responsibility to heart. Her career at Mars, and in STEM, spans more than two decades across all business segments, plus a variety of continents and areas of responsibility. She embraces her work at Mars Edge and champions science-based innovation to promote better lives through nutrition. 

As a member of the Women of Mars program, she takes a keen interest in coaching and mentoring her colleagues and future leaders. Nici’s years of experience working in largely male-dominated fields gives her the perspective to help guide other women at Mars to succeed. 

Here are five things Nici says organizations can do to advocate for women in STEM:   

  1. Strive for Equal Representation 
    “The problems we work to solve with math and science are often problems facing society. And society is about 51 percent female. So, if your workforce demographics don’t match the population demographics, women’s voices aren’t truly being heard and you might not be addressing the problem properly. It’s vital to have the right balance of diversity — of gender, race and expertise — in the field.”

  2. Put People First
    “Pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hunched over a computer or microscope alone, relying on only your scientific intelligence. At Mars, for example, most Associates work in manufacturing, and we work with them. So emotional intelligence is also important, and there are plenty of opportunities for STEM professionals who love working with people and value team dynamics.”

  3. Be a Role Model 
    “When kids are pondering future professions, they naturally look for people they can relate to or follow. If they don’t see any in a particular field, they tend to assume that field isn’t one they should pursue; it’s human nature. So, to be successful as a woman in a STEM career, it’s also important to be a role model. Not just for the generations behind you, but for your co-workers. When we asked a number of our women working in supply why women weren’t moving up in STEM positions, many said they needed to see a role model closer to their position. Not eight steps above, but one step or maybe two. Without role models in attainable positions, there are fewer examples of success.”
     
  4. Set Both Professional and Personal Boundaries
    “Know that your colleagues will support your choices. It’s the best way to offer the best of yourself, both at work and at home. Our culture is collaborative and we solve problems. This means it’s second nature for me to help other women through critical moments: the first days after maternity leave; applying for promotions; pushing beyond comfort zones; balancing dual careers. It’s not technical skills women are lacking; it’s often confidence and setting boundaries.”
     
  5. Love What You Do!
    “I love the fact that with a career in STEM, you can work in a lab or sit in a small pilot plant or do any number of jobs, but you’re always working on something that has a ripple effect so big it impacts many people. A scientific or technical breakthrough can create a better future for people. It’s a gratifying sense of purpose.”
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