How Mentoring Women Benefits Us All

Women are significantly under-represented on boards, in senior management and in certain occupations and industries. Being the lone woman, or one of very few in the workplace often means women feel isolated. A sense of belonging, important to well-being and engagement may be missing.

Isolation is emotionally and professionally disempowering and may be downright debilitating. Mentoring can change that.

In research I did last year with women professionals on boards, mentoring was significant. Without exception, senior women said they had had people with whom they could discuss issues and challenges, use as a sounding board for their ideas and gain confidence-building feedback.

It’s clear that trusted confidantes are vital to women at every age and stage of career.

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L-R: Dr Erica Smith (Project Leader), Ms Jackie Reid (Project Leader) and Ms Nansiri Iamsuk (Project Coordinator)

University of New England’s Balancing The Equation mentoring program for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)

Female students in the University of New England’s Balancing The Equation mentoring program for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are linked with academics and professionals in their field. The program encourages women to “select, succeed and stay” in STEM careers because, as well as supporting women in their chosen career path, retention in STEM has an important economic and social impact. As Pricewaterhouse Coopers reported earlier this year:

  • 44% of jobs are at risk from digital disruption
  • 75% of the fasted growing occupations now require STEM skills, and
  • Shifting just 1% of the workforce into STEM roles would add $57.4 billion to Australian GDP over 20 years.

Women are not only under-represented in studying STEM, many do not stay in the field after graduation because workplaces where women are a minority are often neither welcoming nor supportive of them.

The UNE mentoring program will build resilience and networks for young professionals as they study and transition to the workplace. Mentors will assist mentorees to identify and deal with issues and challenges and encourage and celebrate their achievements.

Australia lags behind other OECD countries in female participation in non-traditional disciplines. We cannot afford to waste the abundance of talent available by failing to address conscious and unconscious bias, recruitment practices and workplace behaviors that prevent equal participation by half the population. We need to attract, encourage and support girls and women into STEM, help them stay and fulfill their capability. Mentoring is one important part of a strategy that benefits us all.

If you would like assistance with your mentoring program call me, Ann Rolfe on (02) 43422610 (in Australia) or email ann@mentoring-works.com and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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About Ann Rolfe

Ann Rolfe is internationally recognised as Australia's leading specialist in mentoring, and is available for speaking, training and consulting. Here Ann shares her knowledge and allows you to ask your most pressing questions about mentoring.

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