What is the difference between formal and informal mentorship models in advancing women’s careers in STEM?
Informal mentoring is a natural component of relationships that occurs throughout the society, in the workplace, as well as in social, professional, and family activities” according to the Journal of Leadership Education.
Formal mentorship differs from informal mentoring as it is developed within a program and process established for mentoring to take place. It’s usually short-term (one year), with the hope it will develop informally for longer. Mentors are usually volunteers, but they’re still chosen, and both parties of the mentoring relationship may not choose each other.
Formal mentorship is needed in the STEM workplace because informal mentorship is less common between men and women and there are fewer women in leadership positions in STEM. In order to ensure that women receive equal opportunities for mentorship, programs can be developed.