By Anika Lalmansingh.
Eight enthusiastic mentors attended the orientation training session, which kicked off the Maryland 2013-2014 Mentor-Protégé program on September 26. The women represented all stages of career advancement and the STEM fields of information technology, engineering, and the biological sciences.
After a bit of socializing over a light dinner, Maryland Program Chair, Carmen Radelat, began the training with background information on GIT including its mission and the seven core beliefs (passion, self-efficacy, innovation, collaboration, empowerment, critical reflection, and leadership) that guide GIT programming.
Next to speak with the mentors was Paige Eldridge, the mentor and matching consultant. She discussed that the definition of a mentor includes being someone who not only provides a support system, but also asks the hard questions challenging the protégé to achieve the important goals that she has set for herself. Using the framework of the AAUW’s study titled “Why So Few?” to outline the reasons why there are small numbers of women in STEM careers, Paige discussed the importance of a mentor as a visible representation of what the girls can achieve if they choose to pursue a career in a STEM field. Many mentors already knew that negative stereotypes about girls’ and women’s abilities in math and science adversely affect girls’ performance in STEM fields, but exposure to successful female role models can help counter those negative stereotypes.
Through stories of their professional paths, the mentors shared why mentoring was important to them and what they could offer their protégés. Although each woman had a reason that was unique to her personal experience, the overall uniting themes were a love and passion for their career path and a recognition of the importance of a good mentor to guide them along their career path.
The session ended with Robin McDougal, GIT Chair, discussing the specific roles of the mentors. She provided tips on communicating and connecting with the protégés and a heart-warming description of what makes this generation of protégés unique and special.
Others in attendance included WIT President Phyllis Kolmus, GIT Vice Chair Cindy McDowell, Mentor Liaison Director Edith Ababio, and Virginia Program Chair Jenny Oh.
Related blog entries: The 2013/2014 Mentor Protege Program is Off and Running!