3 Ways to Mentor

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The National Women’s History Project asked members to pick out a theme for National Women’s History Month 2013. They chose:

One of the ways we can recognize and encourage women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is by celebrating mentorship. You don’t have to be a STEM professional to mentor STEM students. You don’t have to be a woman to mentor other women.

What does it take to be a mentor?

First, I think you need to say yes. I have been asked many times over the course of my life to mentor young women. I’ve always said no because I wondered what I had to offer. Now I know: I can offer confidence, thoughtful advice and my experience in the business world. I’ve started saying yes.

I think a good mentor is a good listener. This is tough because we think teaching is by instructing and explaining. Mentors are in a unique position, though. They can help women solve their own problems.

Finally, being a mentor means that you probably can’t be friends with the mentee. A friendship could develop down the road, yes, but a mentorship program is a one-way street. Mentors are selfless and give their time and attention to someone who really needs it. If you are being mentored by someone who is awesome, you should learn from that example and pay it forward.

I am all for celebrating women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But no (wo)man is an island. Let’s recognize the great men and women who help to develop our great STEM workforce.

And I hope you consider being a mentor!

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