Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State takes lead on Million Women Mentors initiative

March 26, 2015


It will take a group effort to find one million mentors for females in middle school, high school, college and early career during the next three years.

Bev Bitzegaio, director of outreach and career support for Indiana State's College of Technology, and Indiana State University Foundation board member Mary McGuire, are leading a statewide effort to encourage Indiana's business leaders to participate in a national women's mentoring program. As co-chairs of Indiana's "Million Women Mentors" program, Bitzegaio and McGuire were joined by Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who is serving as honorary chair, for the kickoff of the program on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Indiana has pledged at least 5,000 mentors toward the national goal of one million mentors by 2018. This national call to action seeks to find women and men to provide career mentoring in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM), Million Women Mentors is an initiative of the STEM Connector organization and a collaboration of more than 50 leading national organizations.

"Over the past two years, we have developed and are implementing programs to prepare Indiana's workforce for the jobs in our growing economy," Ellspermann said.

"We know that a large number of those positions are STEM-related. However, women only hold 25 percent of STEM-related positions. We simply need more girls and young women pursuing STEM education and careers," she said.

"As a female engineering student at Purdue, I can confirm to you that the mentoring and support that I received from the Purdue Women in Engineering staff and colleagues helped me persist through the studies and succeed," Ellspermann added. "Now I ask you to be one of those mentors so you can be that voice of encouragement and a role model for a young girl debating a STEM career or working her way through a STEM course of study. You can be a difference-maker."

Bitzegaio said a shortage of women has existed for years in science, technology, engineering and math "and we want to help women find successful mentors to help them in those fields. It's expensive to hire new employees and we want companies to see that mentoring, particularly in STEM careers, is a great way to attract, prepare, and sustain the future workforce. One of our goals is to get companies and organizations to embrace the idea of mentoring, but how they do it is ultimately up to them."

Mentoring helps everyone, "but especially with women going into STEM careers, because there aren't that many of us," said Mcguire, a 1979 College of Technology graduate and retired engineer with Remy International. "I have either been a mentor or mentee almost all my life, and some of the best advice I've received has been from my mentors. Females need to see and talk to other women in STEM careers and be encouraged that they can do it too."

"March is Women's History Month, so it is a good time to reflect where we've been and where we are headed," McGuire said. "We have come a long way and still have a lot to do."Whether it's face-to-face, online or as part of new employee training, mentoring could play a role in getting more females involved in STEM.

"Mentors can help mentees learn how to connect their interests with a variety of career fields, and they can be role models by sharing their stories with others looking to get into that field," Bitzegaio said.

As part of the movement, she will focus some of her efforts on encouraging Indiana State's Females in Technology organization to become mentors for middle and high school girls, as well as for new females enrolling in technology majors.

"Employers value the skills students gain from mentoring knowing those skills can be used in the workplace for company mentoring programs," she said. "Participating in the Million Women Mentors movement will help our students build their confidence and expand their professional development, as well as help to attract more females to STEM fields."

Photos: - Indiana State University technology alumna Mary McGuire (left) joined Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Bev Bitzegaio, director of outreach and career support for the university's College of Technology, in kicking off Indiana's commitment to the "Million Women Mentors" initiative March 25, 2015 at the Lilly Technology Center in Indianapolis.

Contact: Bev Bitzegaio, director of outreach and career support, College of Technology, Indiana State University, 812-237-3575 or

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or