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What good are mentors in an online age?
As part of Mentor Month, one expert discusses STEM, women, mentorship, and how the whole economy could change
In an age where anyone with an internet connection can learn everything from how to cut a pineapple to “Intro to Engineering” from MIT, are mentors still relevant to students interested in their future careers, and do women in STEM need mentors more than other groups?
According to Karen Purcell, professional engineer, founder and president of PK Electrical, and author of Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, it’s not because a YouTube video gives a virtual tour of a lab that students feel secure in their career choices.
“Nothing compares to one-on-one interaction between people,” explained Purcell. “It is the direct conversation and encouragement that makes mentorship valuable…The relationship goes beyond just the exchange of information, but making eye contact, picking up on body language, and experiencing the human contact with the mentor is an important part of the learning process.”
(Next page: Mentors, women, and STEM)