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As STEM Interest Declines, Mentors' Importance Rises

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The COVID-19 pandemic caused a decline in college enrollment numbers, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Also, studies show that girls' interest in STEM declines as they progress through high school. In addition, Black and Hispanic students leave their STEM major in college at a higher rate than white students. A lack of mentoring and guidance within STEM fields are one reason behind the declines, says product engineer Caitlin Kalinowski.

Companies need to develop official mentoring programs, and provide mentors who look like members of underrepresented groups such as women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, Kalinowski says. "Mentorships are integral to increasing minority interest and ensuring success," she says.

The mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street, Kalinowski says. "The unidirectional, old-school way of looking at things is dated and stale. The mentor needs to feel that he or she is also getting something out of this," Kalinowski says. "Both will grow and that benefits the organization and society as well."

From Caitlin Kalinowski
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