01/24/2013 12:13 EST | Updated 03/26/2013 05:12 EDT

A Call For More Female Mentors

Not too long ago I was in a room full of women where they were discussing their future. Some were older and felt that they had nothing to live for while some were looking at their future with hope. Are we feeding enough knowledge into the next generation to ensure that their future is bright enough so that they can stand on their own? Maybe or maybe not.

The older generation of women would reminisce at the chances they were not given and the opportunities they have missed all because they were born females. One in particular was born to solve crime in a scientific lab but her father had said to her that her job was to have a family and raise children. Learning how to cook might be a better option for her.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is an important factor to our society. Without science we cannot examine the world around us. Technology serves as an information and communication infrastructure. Engineering is so broad and can apply to so many industries -- computer engineer, mechanical engineer, civil engineer, chemical engineer, and the list goes on.

Oh, and engineering is totally based on mathematics. This is all like a chain where all four topics blend in to compliment each other. Why is it that in real life things do not work just the same, where women and men are presented with the same opportunities to enter in this field?

While in grade school, male teachers do not believe that their female students are capable of considering or comprehending the topic of computer science therefore this topic will be off the list for a girl student. And it wasn't her decision to make. Opportunities do not come knocking for her unless it is an acceptable topic such as a cooking class perhaps?

There is enough evidence to tells us that the number of women are far less in this line of work and the few that were fortunate enough to study this field do not necessarily hold a C-Level position. It amazes me that in the 21st century we still deal with the factor of inequality and the development of opportunities for women in STEM sector is still a continual issue.

What we also know is that women, at some point in their lives, will have to take breaks from their careers for a variety of reasons, mainly to have children and raise a family. If they chose to go back in the male-dominated industry, it is not as simple as might be expected as the support is not easily available to them.

There is a lot to be done to make this an uncomplicated transition for women who want to return to their line of work in this field. Systemic changes and policies need to be evaluated and implemented in order for women to be able to afford to take time off to have a family if they chose to while having the opportunity to return to work when she's ready.

The necessity for female mentors is also a factor that needs to change in this field. The seasoned workforce of female leaders need to be introduced to more mentorship opportunities where they will be able to shape the future female leaders in this industry.

Girls' accomplishments in STEM are created by the quality of female leaders around them. Once young girls see themselves as successful as the leaders before them they will believe in the potential for academic growth therefore a positive outcome will result out of it. Having access to female leaders in the STEM industry where they show support and the opportunity to network with each other will be a huge factor in the positive outcome for the girls who show interest in pursuing STEM careers in the future.

Female mentors shape the paths for the next generation of female leaders and, at this point, the mentors and the young women need support in achieving the success that they were born to have. This issue is predominant in Canada as the systemic support here is far less accessible as our neighbours south of the border seem to thrive in.

We must recognize that STEM is seen as a need to drive economic growth and that all girls need guidance while female mentors need support from the society. Our evolution is developing quicker than before due to information and technology integration in our lives. We need to realize where we are going and in order to do that we need to give opportunities to all goal-driven approaches, including opportunities to females in early STEM education where creative thinking and innovative ideas must be promoted, discovered and developed.