When Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid burst upon the scene in the 1980s, she created building sketches that challenged conventional norms. She embraced the idea of using curves instead of straight lines. She created bold designs that stretched both the imagination as well as the technological boundaries of the time. What seemed impossible, Hadid eventually made possible with her roster of building designs, such as the Olympics Aquatic Structure in 2012.Fearlessly feminist and undeniably fond of fashion (she even went on to design shoes for some iconic brands), Hadid was just one among the women who pursued STEM careers that involve both a sense of style and creativity, as well as scientific know-how. Architecture and landscaping have now been classified as STEM subjects in India and abroad, as have a host of other disciplines, such as computer animation, graphic design, and video game design.Says Sarmishta Pantham, a User Experience Designer/Art Director, who runs an independent practice Pantham based in Europe, I predominantly work on shaping digital products and marrying physical services with the digital. I came into this space via fashion, and then graphic design. I see design as a tool that can solve problems, clarify communication and be a powerful means to create something tangible out of an abstract idea.Design is in everything. It is the process that has produced every object and experience in our lives. Even if unconscious or poorly done, it is still design. I believe what women can uniquely bring to design is quite simply ourselves our perspective, our emotional intelligence, our stories. In a world that is built for and by men, our voices and design perspectives are necessary to create intelligent, forward-thinking visions of the future.She adds, Design is equal parts art and science. It is the balancing of user needs with business needs and technical constraints. Not to quote a cliche, but almost everyone remembers the Apple Smartphone when it first launched. But even a well-designed door knob and an engaging magazine can evoke a similar emotion. I say emotion intentionally here. Design solves problems, but it leaves one feeling well, at the very least.A 2016 survey by Construction World revealed that only 50 per cent of architecture graduates in India were men. The playing field was even. Yet, only 20 out of the 50 per cent of women who studied were licensed practitioners. However, this figure has been on an upward trend in the last few years, with more women choosing to practice with firms and eventually branching out on their own. Sunil Philip, Principal Architect of PSP Design (a multi-disciplinary firm), remains upbeat about the numbers saying, From my experience of hiring people for over 25 years, a larger number of women are now applying for architecture jobs than ever before. On our shortlist, more than 75 per cent tend to be girls and women.Philip believes science is important to become an architect. You cant even negate the fact that biology is important. When we study structures, were also sometimes studying the structure of the human anatomy. In addition to this, you need to be creative. The arts are important, especially sculpture. Architects need to perceive things from a world view. We are supposed to know everything. Every genre of project is different. It could be anything from a hospital to a school, both of which have different requirements. So you need to have broad-spectrum exposure before getting in.He says that architecture is not an easy line and is taxing, as it comes under the bracket of three other key professional practices doctors, lawyers, and chartered accountants. These are professional services with a large social responsibility, so the rigour for getting into the profession is high. Architecture is a five-year course. You have to put your whole body and mind into it. Then when you start off, you need to spend at least three years with a firm, studying the aspects of the industry. Theres a huge learning curve. If you look at the number of years you need to put in, what the market offers as remuneration is a problem.'With engineering, after a three-year course, a candidate can earn nearly four times the salary of an architect. But these are industry benchmarks and what the market allows. The employer is only paid so much by the client. So, you have to weather it through. Also, people who make money are not necessarily perceived as successful by industry insiders. It takes critical acclaim to be recognised by your own. In the architecture industry, no one ever says wow theyve made so much money. Its about working on great buildings. Although there are many successful young people in the field, this kind of critical acclaim typically comes only after the age of 60.His advice to young and upcoming women architects is to complete their education and learn on the job from a reputed firm. Educational institutions, even the best, only teach you architecture. They dont teach how to navigate the profession. That kind of discipline youll only get on the job. If you start off by working only for yourself, youre not going to build those skill sets. I recommend a minimum of three to five years before you even think of starting your own firm, since it takes a certain maturity to enter the industry.Interestingly, another creative STEM career that sees almost a 50:50 ratio between men and women globally is graphic design. Among the industries that hire graphic designers are Fortune 500 companies, media houses, retail, manufacturing, education, finance, technology, and telecommunication. While the nature of industries that men and women cater to might be skewed, there is no denying that the same basic skill sets are employed to implement the task at hand.Patham says, A digital designer has many skills in their toolbox, depending on the kinds of problems they work with. For a profile like mine, its a combination of behavioural psychology, interaction principles, and user research methodologies, alongside an understanding of gestalt principles, typography, and interaction design to synthesise ideas into a tangible product for people to use. What will set one apart, besides all of this, though, is the ability to tell the story and make sense of the idea from a business perspective, which is ultimately important for it to go out and live in the world.