NGCP Sheds a Light: Our 3 Most Common Questions from Mentors on Connecting with Girls Answered!

The National Girls Collaborative Project brings together organizations throughout the United States that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). And the collaboration that results when these organizations come together through NGCP has an impact. (Check out our infographic on Increasing Collaboration).

MWM Announcement2That’s why NGCP is a Founding Partner of Million Women Mentors. We are committed to leveraging our network to create a tipping point for gender equity in STEM by maximizing access to shared resources, and one of the most important untapped resources are the million women STEM mentors that we KNOW are out there in our communities.

One NGCP initiative, the FabFems Project, provides a place for role models and mentors to share their inspiring STEM journeys. Through the FabFems Role Model Directory, female STEM professionals are directly connecting with girls, young women and girl-serving programs seeking role models and mentors. With over 500 role models and mentors across the country, we get asked a lot of questions! Here are our three most common questions…and our answers!

  1. What is the most common question girls will ask? You may receive questions about how much money you make, the most challenging part of your day as professional in STEM, what you love most about your job, classes you took in high school. Yes, you’ll get all those questions. But the most common question you’re likely to get? What is your favorite color? What is your favorite food? Do you have any dogs or cats? Girls want to relate. Be ready to share some of the details of your life. Connect. Find things in common. Then answer all their other questions, the ones that will be sure to come up once you’ve established that you both love all things blue!
  2. Is it okay to tell girls about times when I didn’t succeed? Should I tell them about my disability? Should I tell them about how I quit my first job? Can I tell them about the hard parts of my day? Yes! Share you challenges and your ‘failures.’ Let your mentees know  it is ok to ‘fail.’ Talk about how you overcome your challenges. Share with girls how you move forward past difficulties, how you persist and keep on doing what you love. Sharing examples like this encourages growth mindset. Check out this recent article about growth mindset.
  3. What can I do to prepare? Mentoring isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Just like most things in life, we can practice and get better at being a mentor. Even if you have been a mentor for many years, there are always things we can do to get better at mentoring and connecting with girls. Check out these great resources from some of our NGCP Partners:

Role Models Matter - Toolkit and Guide from Techbridge: This resource guide and toolkit, developed by Techbridge, helps role models host successful site visits and field trips. The guide and planning documents contain strategies for showing girls how technology, science, and engineering can connect to their interests and goals. Sample activities, presentations and agendas are provided to help you make your visit easy, effective and engaging. Also, check out their new online training toolkit.

Mentoring in a Box - Technical Women at Work: This resource from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), developed in collaboration with the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, offers activities, resources, and tools to support a mentoring pair, presented in an easy-to-use format. Visit www.ncwit.org/resources for more related NCWIT resources.

Want more? Explore the FabFems Project Resources Page and the NGCP Page on Engaging Girls in STEM.

MWM AnnouncementThe National Girls Collaborative Project consists of Collaboratives serving 39 states, and facilitates collaboration between 12,800 organizations, who serve almost 9 million girls and 4.5 million boys. Earlier this summer, twelve of our NGCP Collaboratives committed state pledges, as part of a national Mentor Fireworks Campaign, which resulted in 110,000 new Million Women Mentor pledges from 22 states (Alaska, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia). The participating NGCP Collaboratives, our national network of FabFems, and the NGCP National Team will be digging deep into our networks in the coming months to encourage women across the United States to step up, join Million Women Mentors, and get out there to impact girls in our communities!