In approximately 269 years women will achieve gender parity, according the World Economic Forum. We do not have even 25 years to spare if we do not see change and we can’t wait. As female entrepreneurs, philanthropists, mentors, we join with thousands of women and girls to make a difference through Million Women Mentors (MWM), and challenge millions to join us as we galvanize forces to mentor and sponsor great jobs and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Jobs in STEM bring equity. Thus, we celebrate International Women’s Day today and call on all of us to mentor EVERY DAY.
From Edie Fraser: While we will celebrate almost 1.5 million mentor pledges made to Million Women Mentors with over a dozen U.S. Senators at the MWM Luncheon on March 15th, will we also commit to making more than 2 million mentor relationships in the next 3 years, as we know there is still so much work to do. Currently in the corporate world, women are only 12% of of CFOs, 17% of CTOs, and 14% of CMOs, yet 48% of CHROs and 76% of HR managers. Despite women entrepreneurs started approximately 11.3 million businesses and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues, access to capital remains the main issue. In the U.S. only 4-10% of venture capital funds go to women, and only 9.4% of fund managers are women. For technology jobs, women make up only 25% of the computing workforce. The numbers are even worse for women and girls of color show are far behind. Mentoring relationships have the power to improve these numbers.
From Sheila Boyington: As an engineer and a mother of two accomplished daughters I commit to #BeBoldForChange today and all days. Our current efforts and my #BeBoldForChange committed action will be to continue our years of dedication and service to help more young girls and women enter the STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). As we collectively strive for a more equitable world this International Women’s Day, I wish to speak out about the issues and immense opportunities for women in STEM and highlight the work of the Million Women Mentors® (MWM) movement. As a STEM professional, I take it very seriously daily to motivate students of all backgrounds, but especially women to pursue their STEM ambitions. Blessed to have a father who encouraged his daughter to pursue STEM, many young girls lack information on STEM careers. That is why the work of my team at Learning Blade®, an online STEM education program designed to introduce middle school students to STEM careers and technologies is important. Learning Blade’s results demonstrate a doubling the number of students who are interested in STEM.
We hope everyone has had the opportunity to see Hidden Figures. The title pretty much says it all. Despite being a critical driving force, and the brains behind in the successful Apollo Missions, young African American female NASA employees’ successes were cast to the shadows of memory and almost lost to history. Let us #BeBoldForChange and tell the stories today and every day of our successes. In fact, one of the MWM partners, American Association of University Women (AAUW) wrote an incredible report titled, Why So Few? Women in STEM, this reports highlights “research findings that point to environmental and social barriers — including stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities — that continue to block women’s progress in STEM”. The report also makes some significant suggestions. To encourage more young women into the highest paying fastest growing segment of jobs in America and the world we need among other things to:
- Spread the word about girls’ and women’s’ achievements in math and science.
- Teach girls that intellectual skills, including math and science skills, grow over time.
- Encourage and help girls to develop their spatial skills.
- Help girls recognize their career-relevant skills.
- Actively recruit women into STEM majors, reach out to more middle/high school girls to inform them more about the STEM fields.
- Emphasize real-life applications in early STEM courses.
- Raise awareness about bias against women in STEM fields.
The work that we are doing through Million Women Mentors is positively changing the national dialogue around women in STEM. MWM supports to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers through mentorship. While we see the needle starting to move, now is not the time to rest on our previous accomplishments. No! In fact now is just the right time to #BeBoldForChange. Remember anything you do is more than nothing – so do something today!
Ahead of its 4-year goal of reaching 1 million mentoring relationship pledges, Million Women Mentors(MWM) and STEMconnector® was proud to announce that as of December 1, 2016, MWM has registered 1,000,000 PLEDGES for mentor relationships. Leadership in MWM has increased the goal to 2 million by 2020. In response to these pledges, there have been over 650,000 completed STEM mentoring relationships counted. The MWM Movement has grown over the past three years by bringing together leaders throughout the country with the shared goal of attracting, developing and retaining more women in the STEM workforce through high-quality mentorships. Go to Millionwomenmentors.org.
Edie Fraser is CEO of STEMconnector® and Million Women Mentors