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Online Mentors to Guide Women Into the Sciences

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Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe on a skateboard

Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe says riding a skateboard gets students to open up to her.

Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe recently launched the Women in Technology Sharing Online (WitsOn) project, which organizes hundreds of prominent women working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries to become online mentors for college students.

The project is part of a six-week program to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. "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," Klawe says.

The program aims to connect young students with accomplished women working in STEM fields. Several universities have contributed mentors and publicized the program to students. Klawe has lined up six prominent women to serve as lead mentors, including Mae C. Jemison, the first black female astronaut, California Institute of Technology chemistry chairperson Jacqueline K. Barton, and Cisco chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior, as well as about 300 other mentors. The mentors will answer questions submitted online by students at any of the universities participating in the project.

WitsOn could help improve the confidence of women who think differently from their male classmates, says Kettering University professor Jacqueline El-Sayed.

From New York Times 
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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