Too many girls and women are held back by biases, social norms and expectations influencing the quality of the education they receive and the subjects they study. They are particularly under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and consequently, in STEM careers.Only 17 women have won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine since Marie Curie in 1903, compared to 572 men. Such huge disparities, such deep inequality, do not happen by chance. According to the latest data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), less than 28 per cent of the worlds researchers are women. Several research papers have found that women in STEM fields publish less, are paid less for their research and do not progress as far as men in their careers. However, there is very little data at the international or even country level showing the extent of these disparities. This gender disparity is upsetting, especially as STEM careers are often referred to as the jobs of the future, driving innovation, social wellbeing, inclusive growth and sustainable development. In addition, women also bear the brunt of what has been termed motherhood penalties. These have been broadly defined as discriminatory behaviours and workplace-enforced barriers that make it more difficult for mothers to continue working their jobs while managing the responsibilities of caring for their children during infancy and early childhood. These penalties include not receiving adequate paid maternity leave, inequities in wages and promotional opportunities throughout and after pregnancy and a general lack of infrastructure to meet their caregiving demands. Her Circle spoke to four women from various fields of STEM on what it takes to sustain and succeed in the field.