The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) is proud to be a strategic partner of the Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative designed to engage one million science, technology, education and math (STEM) mentors-both male and female-to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to pursue and succeed in STEM degrees and careers. As the nation addresses the challenges and opportunities posed by an evolving global economy and shifting demographics, innovation in sparking interest and development in STEM careers is a key priority.
In the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs has been three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. Today 80% of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on mastery of mathematics and knowledge and skills in hard sciences. While women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce, just 24% are in STEM fields, a statistic that has held constant for nearly the last decade. While 75% of all college students are women and students of color, they represent only 45% of STEM degrees earned each year. Too many of these young women begin in STEM degree but leave those degree paths despite their good academic standing, often citing uncomfortable classroom experiences and disconcerting climate.
MENTOR has seen a rapid increase in the intersecting fields of youth mentoring and STEM exploration and a transformative opportunity to provide intentional opportunities that stress rigor in STEM exploration and content as well as relationship building especially in programming that is built on a continuum.
“Mentoring is a relationship-based gateway to the world of possibilities for young people and as a result is so powerfully applicable to the changing economy, growth of STEM careers, and most importantly, where girls and young women see themselves in the equation,” said David Shaprio, CEO of MENTOR.
MENTOR will also promote the power of mentoring, including STEM mentoring, during the January 2015 National Mentoring Month. Since 2002, MENTOR along with the Harvard School of Public Health has led National Mentoring Month as part of a larger effort to expand the number of quality mentoring opportunities for our nation’s young people. MENTOR provides this public awareness platform to the mentoring field to recruit volunteers and drive engagement by demonstrating the powerful and positive impact of mentoring on young people and communities. President Barack Obama highlighted in importance of STEM in his presidential proclamation declaring January National Mentoring Month, saying, “Mentors and caring adults serve as essential sources of inspiration, lifting up young people and positioning them to build the America of tomorrow. That is why my Administration continues to expand opportunities for mentoring and support the individuals who enable our future leaders. We are working with businesses to increase apprenticeship programs and connect groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math fields with role models in STEM careers.”
In 2015, we look forward to continuing to leverage this important initiative and encourage individuals to support STEM mentoring and the positive effects it can have on individuals, communities and the workforce. The 2015 National Mentoring Summit in January, convened by MENTOR, will provide an additional opportunity to promote STEM mentoring with programmed focused on the topic. To learn more about how you can make a difference by mentoring in your community, visit our website.