Did you catch “Online Mentors to Guide Women Into the Sciences” in this weekend’s New York Times?
Hundreds of prominent women working in science, technology, engineering and math will become online mentors for college students next month, part of a six-week program to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM fields.
[...] The program has no curriculum, no exam, no grades and no credit — just a goal of connecting young students with accomplished women working in STEM fields.
[...] While women now earn more college degrees than men over all, they lag in STEM fields — particularly computer science and engineering, where they earn less than 20 percent of all undergraduate degrees.
Known as Women in Technology Sharing Online (or WitsOn), the pilot program will connect female undergraduates “with female mentors from industry and academia who can speak from personal experience about issues of particular concern to young women” — and hopefully inspire them to seek their own mentors offline at the conclusion of the program’s six weeks.
Two elements of WitsOn struck me: first, its focus on encouraging science or math-inclined female students to stick with it and, second, its creation of an academic mentorship program that doesn’t depend on a syllabus or on grades — in other words, a program that could potentially bridge the gap between academic and professional life. Many traditional mentorships center on the completion of high school or college, rather than the development of an academic interest into a career. So WitsOn’s focus seems both unique and much-needed.
What do you think? How can we inspire students to explore a range of academic interests, even before the reach college or graduate school? You can also browse Catalogue’s enrichment nonprofits right here, many of which focus on mentorship and delving into particular academic subjects.