Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dignitaries from 12 United Nations member nations, and leaders from nine other U.S.-based organizations on Sept. 24 in New York to launch the Equal Futures Partnership—a U.N. and White House initiative to improve social and economic conditions for women worldwide. The Equal Futures Partnership comprises new programs aimed at expanding women’s political and economic participation, and includes Harvey Mudd College and Piazza’s new online community mentoring program, WitsOn (Women in Technology Sharing Online). WitsOn is the first online mentorship program designed to support students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“The Equal Futures Partnership resonates deeply with our efforts at Harvey Mudd College, where the latest first-year class is almost evenly split between men and women,” said President Klawe. “Of all the initiatives I’ve undertaken, I’ve never seen as much enthusiasm as I have for WitsOn. I think President Obama will see widespread support for the Equal Futures Challenge.”
The U.S. founded the Equal Futures Partnership with 12 other member nations: Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia; as well as the European Union. The initiative is supported by partnerships with U.N. Women, the World Bank and leading businesses and non-profit organizations, including Intel and the Clinton Global Initiative.
“When I met representatives from the Office of Science and Technology Policy last spring with the idea for WitsOn, they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and helpful,” said Pooja Sankar, CEO of Piazza. “We’re so honored to work with Harvey Mudd College to respond to the Equal Futures Challenge—to enlist the smartest women in America to make sure everyone has an opportunity for a rewarding career in science and technology.”
Launched Sept. 17, WitsOn connects undergraduates pursuing STEM degrees with female mentors from industry and academia who can speak from personal experience about issues of particular concern to young women. More than 60 leading colleges and universities and 10,000 students have signed on to be part of the program, which begins Oct. 1. The Anita Borg Institute has also joined WitsOn as an outreach partner, and more than 70 additional universities have applied to join the program. In addition to Klawe, mentors include California Institute of Technology chemist Jackie Barton, Cisco Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Padma Warrior, former Welch-Allyn CEO Julie Shimer, and Microsoft Vice President Julie Larson-Green.
WitsOn is open to any undergraduate student in a U.S. or Canadian college or university. Students can register at the Piazza website.