When it comes to encouraging more students to enter the fields that make up STEM –Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – American faces twin crises. First, how do we meet the looming 1.8 million shortfall in the number of workers who have the technical skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow? And second, how do we ensure that more women and girls go into these fields?
The good news is that there are some true leaders committed to solving this problem. Among them, Cisco’s own Liz Centoni, Vice President, Engineering Strategy & Portfolio Planning and Chief of Staff for Chief Development Officer. Liz sits in the part of Cisco that innovates and develops our new technologies, products and solutions, the core of Cisco’s engineering team. Liz is an active mentor and supports under-represented minorities. At Cisco, she launched a “Women in Engineering Leadership” forum, and is the Global Executive Sponsor for Cisco’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a recipient of the YWCA (Silicon Valley) 2015 TWIN Award, and CloudNOW’s “Top 10 Women in Cloud-2015.”
That’s why this week Liz will be honored by one of our nation’s most notable organizations that is trying to make mentoring a national priority – Million Women Mentors.
The Million Women Mentors organization is dedicated to advancing the education of girls and women in STEM. Today, Million Women Mentors is meeting at the National Press Club for an annual summit and gala. Cisco is proud to be both a sponsor and participant. www.millionwomenmentors.org
Cisco believes passionately in STEM mentoring as a tool that can help advance diversity in the STEM fields, a cause we wholeheartedly support. We are especially honored to be among the group – public and private – scheduled to receive awards tonight. We have committed to the US2020 pledge – that 20 percent of our workforce will mentor students in STEM annually by 2020. We have also significant programs in place to train students to meet the needs of the 21st century economy, as well as to increase the number of students of all backgrounds to go into STEM.
We’re proud to share the stage with other corporate leaders and elected officials, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
As Patrice D’Eramo, Cisco’s vice president of America’s Field Marketing and a one of the Vice Chairs of the MWM told me: “Each of us has an obligation to extend a hand mentoring the next generation of leaders,” she said. “We want to open the door of opportunity to all students – and especially girls and young women– to be aware of STEM careers and to be excited by the possibilities that are out there. My career in tech is living proof what happens when you are mentored, in STEM, at a young age.”
I could not agree more.
Congratulations to Liz, other awardees, and the Million Women Mentor’s organization on this day of celebration. The work they do truly makes a difference.