Mentors in STEM

What is a mentor

Mentors have always been a part of society. You see examples of this in your own life, movies, and history courses. People often echo the importance of mentorship; but, what is categorized as a mentor? 

Guider defines a mentor as, “a person who can support, advise and guide you. They typically take the time to get to know you and the challenges you’re facing and then use their understanding and personal experience to help you improve.

This relationship is additional to a manager or boss and benefits from a more personal and confidential structure. Mentors have the potential to become lifelong friends, or the relationship might only last until you’ve achieved a goal, there’s no one size fits all.”

Why are mentors important to STEM

The presence of mentors in STEM education is especially important due to the rigor of the career and the stigma around the STEM workforce. Mentoring in STEM can give students a sense of guidance, regardless of race or gender. Mentorship can create an equitable space for all. 

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, “Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.” Women mentoring young or college-age girls can show them real-life examples of success in the workforce. It also supplies them with the confidence and support they need to take risks and pursue their passion in science, technology, engineering, and math. 

A study done in Forbes stated that girls start doubting their STEM intelligence by age 6. Despite equivalent test scores, they are still doubting themselves and are less likely to pursue a STEM career in the future. This startling fact shows the importance of female STEM professionals taking the time to support and educate the youth. Seeing real-life success can be a changing factor in what a student thinks is possible for them. 

The need for diversity in STEM fields is a topic that is often talked about. Similar to the points made above about women in STEM, there is not a proportionate amount of people of color in STEM. A study on STEM mentorship programs stated that “Educators should focus on inclusive learning by highlighting the accomplishments of diverse STEM professionals, to help strengthen feelings of STEM belonging.” The study also found that there was more mentor-student success when the mentor was of the same race and gender as the student. This can be accredited to the student seeing a first-hand success story of someone succeeding in the STEM workforce who is “like them”. 

The Role they Play 

Mentors have the ability to help students pave their way through education and their future STEM careers through a mentorship program, schools, or an organic meet. Students can use mentors as a guiding force to help them succeed.

With STEM jobs rising at a rate faster than any other field, and there being a constant need for innovative thinking, there has never been a higher need for quality STEM workers. In order to create a strong STEM workforce, there needs to be qualified, passionate, diverse individuals filling STEM jobs. Through positive mentoring experiences, we can all play our part in helping students, especially underrepresented students, succeed. 

STEM Sports- A unique opportunity for mentors

STEM Sports® offers a unique opportunity for mentors to engage with K-8 students. Using sports as a facilitator of STEM can help to build the personal relationship that is so important to mentoring. It can be a common group and also be a way to bring real-life examples into the teachings and lessons. 

If you are a mentor and interested in mentoring a K-8 student, click here to go to our website and request a free sample of our curriculum.

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