Mentorship for Women in STEM
Mentorship plays a pivotal role in most professional careers and holds a special significance for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
There has been a significant increase in the number of women participating in STEM fields over the past few decades. Their contributions to various advancements and breakthroughs are also gaining well-deserved recognition. Yet despite these accomplishments, the gender gap within STEM still prevails, highlighting the need for concerted efforts to promote equity and inclusion.
The persistence of the gender gap in STEM is attributed to a complex interplay of factors. Some of these include societal stereotypes, biases and systemic barriers that have historically discouraged or limited the participation of women in these fields. These obstacles have also contributed to a scarcity of role models and a lack of female representation at senior levels, which can, in turn, deter young women from pursuing STEM careers.
The Importance of Mentorship
Mentorship has emerged as a pivotal strategy for narrowing the gender gap and creating a more balanced representation in STEM.
Women who are mentored gain access to valuable guidance, advice and recommendations for promotions. A study by Catalyst found that women who are mentored, especially by senior-level mentors, are more likely to move up the corporate ladder. These experienced professionals also offer insights into career development, provide guidance on overcoming obstacles and share strategies for achieving success in projects and initiatives.
Mentorship also helps build confidence among women in the workforce. By having someone to turn to for advice and support, new professionals can develop a greater belief in their abilities and a clearer understanding of the opportunities available to them. In fact, an analysis by Moving Ahead and Deloitte found that 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence. This feeling of empowerment can be a powerful tool for breaking down the psychological barriers that might discourage women from pursuing or persisting in STEM careers.
Women can expand their professional networks through mentorship. In male-dominated fields, these networks can be essential for accessing job opportunities, collaborative projects and avenues for career advancement. A study conducted by the Bureau of Labour Statistics and Yale University indicates that 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. By connecting with mentors, women gain entry to a broader circle of colleagues, peers and potential collaborators, thereby increasing their visibility and influence within the field.
Mentorship programs can actively contribute to changing the broader culture within STEM environments. Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programs boosted minority representation at the management level by 9% to 24%. The same study found that mentoring programs also dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women – 15% to 38% as compared to non-mentored employees.
Empowerment through mentorship is not just theoretical; it’s a practical and actionable avenue to transform the landscape of women in STEM.
By community, for community
The importance of mentorship for women in STEM is what inspired SCWIST to create MakePossible, an online community that connects everyone in STEM and helps them learn, share and grow with each other.
Registration for MakePossible is always free, and by signing up, you’re joining a vibrant ecosystem that values diversity, supports growth and paves the way for everyone in STEM to succeed.
If you’re ready to join a warm and inviting community, sign up for MakePossible by SCWIST. Together, we’ll create a world where everyone in STEM can excel.