For the last several years, more attention has been paid to getting students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), because too few college graduates, especially women, are entering careers in these fields.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 45% of women in the workforce hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, indicating a strong desire to advance in the corporate world. Yet, in STEM careers, such as those with a heavy focus on math or computer programming, women make up only 27% of all workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
So, what is happening here? Although women have made gains in the financial world, many continue to shy away from careers that require technical and math skills, often because they don’t see women in the rank and file.
If we want to see more women in leadership roles, we can’t just leave it to colleges and schools. We must aggressively promote mentorship within our organizations.
Multiple studies show mentors are incredibly valuable. If a woman develops a personal relationship with a more seasoned professional early in her career, she is likely to be promoted more quickly than those without mentors, according to SAP HR Research. That’s why it’s important that women recognize the many values of mentoring – it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
A good place to start is to establish a culture of mentorship among all employees, regardless of their tenure. This can have many benefits, including increased job satisfaction, a stronger commitment to the profession and confidence that she can advance her career.
Serving as a mentor also helps the more seasoned professional in many ways. It strengthens leadership skills, while also allowing the mentor to take a step back and reflect on areas in her own career that may need a bit of a tune-up. Maintaining an open mind encourages mentees to reciprocate and share their knowledge, leading to personal growth for both parties.
Here’s the bottom line for women: take the leap and reach out to a new professional to help her to find success in her career.
About Your Columnist
Jessica Word is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence. She is is president of Word & Brown General Agency. Established in 1985 and headquartered in Orange, Calif., Word & Brown is one of the state’s largest general agents. For additional information, visit www.wordandbrown.com.