Best Practice in the Spotlight: Million Women Mentors

One of the main goals of the DiversIT initiative is to showcase the achievements of certified members, to share the exemplary practices driving diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. These organizations have demonstrated exceptional commitment to fostering inclusive work environments and promoting equal opportunities.

turkish computer society logo

In this edition, we turn our attention to the Informatics Association of Turkiye (IAT), whose impactful initiative “Million Women Mentors” was one of the factors that led to IAT being certified with DiversIT Gold level. By connecting young women with leaders in STEM fields, they set a benchmark for others to follow. This is a very well-organised and, most of all, scalable and replicable program that will hopefully inspire others to implement similar initiatives in their own companies/countries.

The Million Women Mentors program, known as “Milyon Kadına Mentor” in Turkish, connects leaders from the private, public, and NGO sectors with young women (15-25 years old) for mentorship to develop their career aspirations. Originally focused on STEM fields, the program expanded in March 2023 to include young women from all fields. The initiative aims to create 1,000,000 mentoring relationships over the next 10 years, supporting women and girls in their careers. A collaboration protocol was signed between the Ministry of National Education’s General Directorate of Secondary Education and the Turkish Informatics Association to coordinate the Million Women Mentor High School Program. This program targets female secondary school students, providing them with mentorship in STEM fields, career path information, and training for teachers and school administrators.

Details about the program:

The Million Women Mentor High School Program aims to support the career goals of young girls aged 15-18 in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. The main objectives of the program are as follows:

  1. To provide students with information about career paths and opportunities in STEM fields.
  2. To encourage students to develop a positive attitude towards STEM fields.
  3. To provide mentorship training to teachers and school administrators to make them more effective in their mentor roles.
  4. To inform and raise awareness among students and parents about STEM fields.

Through the program, students are given the opportunity to connect with real-world professionals while also boosting their motivation and self-confidence, encouraging them to take an interest in STEM fields and learn about potential career opportunities.

The program also provides significant benefits for mentors, as they have the opportunity to connect with young talents, develop leadership skills, and share their experiences.

Some pilot schools involved in the Million Women Mentor High School Program include Istanbul Darüşşafaka High School, Mardin Midyat Anatolian High School, and Adana Atatürk Vocational and Technical Anatolian High School.

Mentors participating in the program may include industry leaders and experienced professionals from various fields such as engineering, science, technology, and mathematics.

The mentees who participate in this program are girls aged between 15-18 years old who are interested in pursuing careers related to STEM areas.

The mentoring period for this program is generally set at six weeks, wherein each week a mentor participates in a one-hour meeting, sharing experiences with high school girls for a total of six hours. However, in some cases, mentoring periods may be shorter depending on the school’s needs.

For group mentoring sessions, an ideal number of students is recommended to be between twenty to twenty-five or at most thirty.

person on stage at a conference

Students are asked to prepare questions before participating, to ensure they get the most out of the sessions through lively interactions with their mentor. Surveys conducted after completion of this initiative have noted a change in student perspectives towards STEM areas, inspiring confidence in their ability to achieve success. It has also helped students develop their skills and confidence when questioning role models.

For the institutions involved, it provides opportunities to connect with public schools, creating expanded networking connections with the parents who serve as mentors.

In conclusion, the Million Women Mentor High School Program successfully supports adolescent girls’ interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), encouraging focus on future career aspirations and enhancing personal growth through various avenues.

Benefits for Students

Some examples of benefits for students participating in the Million Women Mentor High School Program are:

  1. Interest and awareness in STEM fields: The program provides students with the opportunity to increase their interest in STEM fields and develop awareness about these areas.
  2. Focus on career goals: Through mentorship meetings, students gain a better understanding of potential career paths they can pursue in the future. They can receive guidance from mentors based on their experiences and expertise.
  3. Finding role models: Mentors serve as real-life role models for students, sharing their achievements and experiences that can inspire them.
  4. Exploring different sectors: Mentors from various backgrounds introduce students to different career options within STEM fields, allowing them to explore a wider range of professional opportunities.
  5. Networking opportunities: Students have the chance to connect with mentors, providing them with access to a professional network that may be beneficial for future job opportunities or internships.
  6. Personal development: Engaging in mentorship meetings helps improve communication skills and boosts self-confidence among students. They learn how to actively engage with mentors by asking questions and expressing their thoughts effectively.
  7. Motivation and inspiration: Hearing about mentors’ experiences and success stories motivates students, inspiring them to believe in their potential and aim higher.
  8. Social connections: The program facilitates interactions among like-minded students who share similar interests, fostering supportive relationships both academically and personally.

Overall, through these various gains, the Million Women Mentor High School Program helps increase interest in STEM fields among girls while also supporting their career aspirations and facilitating personal growth initiatives.

More information about the project (in Turkish) can be found through this link.

If you would like to find out more, feel free to contact us, and we will connect you with IAT.

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