by guest contributor Joe David
Photo credit: Courtesy of MWM
STEMconnector® and Million Women Mentors (MWM) launched the publication Women’s Quick Facts with a spectacular luncheon, sponsored by Johnson and Johnson, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The 267-page guidebook, which provides readers with persuasive information of why women in male-dominated industries matter, is filled with compelling data to make this point.
To highlight the book release, sponsored by Pillsbury Law, top women in industry, government and the media told their story of how through mentoring they were able to break through barriers in their industries to become leaders in their field and make real contributions.
To build a case for mentoring, a diverse selection of women from different businesses and with different backgrounds shared with each other their stories of why mentoring was so important for enabling them to achieve extraordinary success.
The keynote speaker at the luncheon was author, lawyer and commentator, Greta Van Susteren. Van Susteren attributed her rise in her chosen career to her mentor, Washington DC trial lawyer Edward Bennett Williams. “I was an unknown face to him when we met, but this didn’t stop him from reaching out to me and providing me with guidance. For this kindness, I have paid him back many times by becoming a mentor and sharing my successes at mentoring with him. There is nothing,” she said, “that is sweeter than extending a helping hand to others who need it.”
Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector® and Million Women Mentors, shaped the direction for the luncheon by emphasizing the urgent need for more mentors. “MWM is committed to reaching its goal of a million mentors (male and female) to support girls and women engaged in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). In these four fields. we have the greatest need to bring more diversity into the workforce, more women into careers dominated by men,” she told hundreds of women gathered to hear her and other super-achievers speak. “Together, through a strong mentoring program, we can meet this need and make a difference.”
A long-time champion of diversity in the workplace, Fraser has maintained an unwavering commitment to getting one million mentors by 2019. She is applying the same determination toward reaching this goal that she has applied to building her respected consulting and communications firm. “This is a very important project for me,” Fraser said, “and I won’t stop the mentoring movement until I have successfully reached the one million mark.”
Some of the over fifty speakers and panelists sharing their thoughts and experiences included:
Mary Frantz, Managing Partner, eKp, said, “There is nothing you can’t achieve, if you are willing to go forward and make new friends. But to do this, it is important that you don’t wait to be asked to become someone’s mentee. You must be brave enough to seek out the person you respect and boldly ask him or her to become your mentor.”
Seema Kumar, Vice President of Innovations, Global Health and Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson, believes girls must be caught early and given opportunity in STEM careers. “We must make them part of the measurement of success in their chosen industry.”
Siobhan Mullen, CEO, TiViTz, said, “We must teach kids to think. They must learn to ask questions about everything, and be exposed to as much experience and information as possible. Only then will they be able to make choices – and have the courage to ask others for help.”
Alka Dhillon, Chief Executive Officer, Technalink, said “We must be alert and in the present. When I was young and seeking a mentor, I was so obsessed with how I was going to meet my mentor that I didn’t realize sitting next to me at a conference was his assistance. Wonderful role models are out there for the next generation to meet,” Dhillon said in conclusion. “But to meet them, you must always be in the present.”
Appropriately, to set the theme musically for the book’s lift-off, Tena Clark, Founder and CEO of DMI Music and Media Solutions, chose to do it with a song NASA commissioned her to write to commemorate the Centennial of Flight in 2003. The Grammy-nominated song, called “Way Up There,” was sung inspirationally by Sheléa Frazer with a musical depth that suited the occasion.
Platinum sponsors included PepsiCo, Tata Consultancy Services, BP, OG, Cisco, Mind Research Institute, TiViTz and Sodexo. Gold Sponsors include Alpha Corporation, Apollo Education Group, Cargill, Carnival Corporation & PLC, The Clearing, Cognosante, Genesis Rehab Services, Diversified Search, Intel, Johnson& Johnson, Learning Blade, Law, Walmart and USA Department of Defense.