The Women’s Movement Marches On with Million Women Mentors (MWM)

PepsiCo, Boeing and Credit Suisse Leaders Share their Vision and Commitment for Advancing Women in STEM

By: Edie Fraser (Chairman and Founder, STEMconnector®) with contributions from Beverly Tarulli (Co-Chair of the PepsiCo STEM Council and Vice President Human Capital Strategy & Workforce Analytics) and Lakshmi Eleswarpu (Vice President, Business and Supply Chain Systems, Boeing)

From the voting rights movements of the late 19th and early 20th century, to the fight for education and employment equality at the forefront in the 1960s and 70s, women have been making the change they want to see in the world for more than 150 years.

March is Women’s History Month, and today, March 8th is International Women’s Day. What better time to celebrate both history-making milestones like the 19th Amendment and the march of steady progress of millions of women who refused to accept the status quo?

Million Women Mentors (MWM) is proud to be part of that history. Like all great steps in the #PressForProgress, MWM was born out of the belief that collaborative action could affect real change in the lives of women around the world.

Launched in 2014 by STEMconnector® and a group of like-minded corporate partners, MWM is leading the movement to advance STEM jobs and careers for women through one-on-one mentorships and advocacy. In four short years, more than 85 national partners and 60 corporate sponsors have joined forces to expand the movement across America and beyond US borders.

A Place in History

But despite celebrated historic efforts, the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report projects that gender parity is more than 200 years away. Women around the world are still fighting for basic human rights and equality in education and employment. As co-leaders of the Million Women Mentors Global Action Plan, we’d like to tell you why we believe the Million Women Mentors program has the potential to accelerate the pace of change.

We see Million Women Mentors as part of a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support. The call to #PressforProgress is not limited to a single day or a single month, it is a constant mission to motivate and unite colleagues and communities to be gender inclusive while building the skills to advance women’s careers.

We believe that gender balance and pay equity in the workplace will help create gender parity in all areas of life — and we recognize that it will take a whole ecosystem to resolve the shortfall that exists today. We believe that STEM advocacy for girls and women is a necessary part of the solution.

Since 2015, we’ve been expanding our global footprint outside the US with pilot programs led by Boeing, Credit Suisse and PepsiCo, initially in Poland and Mexico, and spreading to Canada in 2016 and later Ireland. Now we are on task for expansion to the UK, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and India. IREX, an international NGO that empowers youth, cultivates leaders, and extends access to quality education, is right there beside us—in 12 countries.

We’re making an enormous impact.

We’ve secured 2 million commitments and we’re on the path to securing 3 million. In fact, by the end of 2017, more than 1 million mentoring sessions were completed in just three short years.

Good For Women, Good for the World

Credit Suisse research has shown that businesses with women in decision-making positions generate stronger market returns and superior profits. Credit Suisse is committed to doing its part to make sure that we see more women in the C-suite.

While there is increasing evidence that having STEM-savvy women in the C-Suite is good for business – and by extension the economy — there is also a convincing case that having STEM skills is good for women and their families.

Consider that up to 80 percent of jobs today require tech skills – and this includes many roles not traditionally associated with STEM as digitization, automation and data analytics are changing the approach to disciplines like sales, marketing, human resources and communications.

With this, exposure to STEM education and mastery of STEM skills is more important than ever for broadening career opportunities.

And we must place diversity at the heart of this movement to empower women to open new opportunities through STEM. To do this we need to amplify the success stories of all women and build one big tent where there representation and greater opportunity for all.

Maya Angelou once said, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care.”

We universally care about the phones in our hands, the cars and planes that we use for travel, and the safety of the food and medicine we provide to our families. These technologies and advancements were all made possible by STEM professionals. We must care even more about the girls who want to invent, explore, and discover the next generation of amazing STEM breakthroughs — but need a little encouragement to do so.

On this day we should also salute the educators and companies that are working to open the minds of girls and women to the possibilities.

We need many more to join us in this movement.

International Women’s Day isn’t an initiative of a single company, institution, country or industry. The day belongs to all of us.

It is up to all of us to make the change we want to see in our world. The inspired leaders, mentors and mentees of the Million Women Mentors movement believe we have found a way to make a profound impact and accelerate change in the march toward equity, equality and opportunity for all women. We hope you will join us.

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