On January 8, Million Women Mentors launched an ambitious initiative to find a million women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers to become mentors for young women. They’ve already had 44,000 experienced professionals sign up to help, either through in-person or online mentoring or by providing internships or job opportunities.
Million Women Mentors is collaborating with 42 partner organizations, including 4-H, Girls Inc., and the Girl Scouts, who will connect them with girls seeking mentorship. They’ve also lined up corporate sponsors such as Walmart, Cisco and General Motors.
The unprecedented joint effort behind Million Women Mentors seeks to turn around some troubling statistics: women earn 60 percent of undergraduate degrees, but only 11 percent of computer science degrees. And women make up nearly half the American work force, but only hold 24 percent of the jobs in STEM fields. Julie Kantor, chief partnership officer for STEMconnector, says that the trouble starts in middle school when girls who are naturally interested in science begin to feel that they don’t fit in science classes because the number of other girls taking them decrease. “That’s when ‘I hate math, I hate science’ starts for girls,” Kantor told Gregory M. Lamb of the Christian Science Monitor. With the help of the Million Women Mentors initiative, hopefully we’ll put the days of Barbie dolls saying “Math class is tough!”  long behind us.
MORE: Teach Her to Raise a Goat, and She Just Might End Up a Scientist