Editor's Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost's Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.
January is National Mentoring Month, a campaign launched in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR. It's great that the campaign matches up when we are making resolutions for the New Year. If you haven't yet served as a mentor, I hope that you make this the year you do. If you are already a mentor, I hope that you continue to do work that matters.
Here at Techbridge, a program to inspire girls in science, technology and engineering, mentors play an important role. Before the winter break, I spent an afternoon with 30 middle schoolers at Ocala Middle School in San Jose, California. While the girls worked on designing gingerbread structures, I asked them about their plans for the future. The girls shared a variety of interests that included an engineer and professional chef. Some girls weren't yet sure. It's a long way from 7th grade to college and first job and a lot can happen along the way to sustain or derail a dream.
I have seen how mentors and role models can inspire girls on a path in technology or engineering. In last year's program, ninety-three percent of Techbridge girls shared that they were more interested in working in technology, science, or engineering because of role models and field trips. What might surprise you is how long-lasting the impact of role models can be.
Techbridge alumnae keep in touch long after they leave the program. Role models often come up in my conversations with these young women. They reflect on how the role models they met in middle school first inspired them in technology or engineering. These role models continue to inspire them and help them in times of challenge.
As a mentor, remember that it's your personal story with successes and challenges that can most help girls. Learning that everything doesn't come easily helps girls understand that bumps along the way are opportunities to learn and grow. When things didn't go as planned, how did you cope and learn from the situation? When you struggled with a course, what strategies helped you find success? You can show by example what it takes to succeed in technology and engineering and help girls understand how they can follow in your footsteps.
Just in time for National Mentoring Month, Million Women Mentors has launched. This collaborative effort has an audacious goal--to engage one million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors. You can help!
There are many girls in your community who are waiting for a mentor like you. Connect with a public school, after-school program, Girl Scout council, Big Sisters, or other youth-serving group. Pay it forward or pay it back. We need more STEM mentors to show girls the possibilities that await them and how they can work and play their way to a successful and personally rewarding future.
Techbridge is a nonprofit with a mission to inspire girls to change the world through science, technology, and engineering. Techbridge relies on role models to achieve its mission and has developed resources to support their success. For more information, visit techbridgegirls.org.