International Women’s Day (IWD)—a celebration to honor the advancement and achievements of women—began in the early twentieth century to promote women’s rights and prevent discrimination in the workforce. Women have advanced considerably in the professional world, but recent highlights on unequal pay and the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines demonstrate the need to keep change moving forward.
To accomplish these advances, women must act as peer mentors of other women in STEM. Let’s be honest with ourselves: Women are not always the best cheerleaders for fellow women, which may be due to factors like competition threats and internal biases. However, we are in this endeavor together and change will only continue when women recognize the need to support the career development of all women. Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th and every day by championing for other women!
5 Ways to be a Peer Mentor of Women in STEM
1. Peer-network: Introduce your colleagues to other professionals, suggest contacts for their network and promote your peers’ accomplishments.
2. Serve as a career mentor to other women: Join a mentoring network, orient a new hire at work or share career advice with students. Plus, you can send a note or card to let a woman know that you value her as an individual.
3. Be a role model for young girls: Encourage a girl to be herself, to explore STEM careers and to be a leader. (Watch this video from The Representation Project on why young girls need role models.)
4. Support non-profit organizations that work on women’s issues (examples below):
5. Organize an event to discuss women’s issues in STEM: Meet people for coffee to have an informal discussion, plan an open forum focused on a paper or movie about gender issues or invite a speaker to share her STEM career experiences.
Discussion Point: How will you support women in STEM?