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.
“I think of this as a MOOC — a massive open online course — and a big mentor-fest,” said Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College and a sponsor of the project. “Getting more women into STEM is my passion in life, and every institution that’s set up mentorship programs for young women has been successful at increasing their numbers, so I think this can make a real difference.”
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. Prominent universities — including the California Institute of Technology, Cornell, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley — have been quick to sign on, contributing mentors and publicizing the program to students.
“I thought this was a great idea as soon as I heard about it,” said Dennis Berkey, the president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “Young women in STEM, more than young men, have a lot of questions about what kind of career they’ll have, whether the rewards are based on performance or the old boys’ network, whether it’ll let them make a positive impact on the world, and how it will relate to their aspirations for family.”
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