The online mentoring program, Rutgers Business School Guiding and Retaining Outstanding Women Students (GROWS), launched this semester in partnership with the Rutgers Business School Center for Women in Business (CWIB).
Lisa Kaplowitz, assistant professor of professional practice in the Department of Finance and Economics at Rutgers Business School and the center’s co-founder and executive director, said the program aims to give students insight on how to succeed as a woman in business and how to overcome the barriers they may face.
“Companies are ... trying to do a good job of getting equal representation of women at that entry-level, but they have not done a great job of making women feel that they are included and belong,” Kaplowitz said. “Where we see the biggest drop-off, if you look at the (McKinsey & Company) research, is at that mid-career level.”
She said the popularity of another CWIB mentoring program called Gaining and Retaining Outstanding Women (GROW), which is for female mid-career professionals, encouraged the creation of Rutgers Business School GROWS, which targets the next generation of women.
Rutgers Business School GROWS provides female students with mentorship from female business professionals, which builds their confidence in their career choice and expands their professional network, Kaplowitz said.
Sangeeta Rao, assistant dean for mentoring programs at the Rutgers Business School, said the program entails five meetings in which mentees receive guidance and professional planning advice from their mentors.
The five meetings cover five essential skills for women in business: self-assessing strengths and weaknesses, articulating effectively, communicating with confidence, dealing with imposter syndrome and positioning oneself for success, she said.
“Each mentoring session focuses on a different concept or strategy so that students are prepared to be effective communicators and generally (equips) them with very specific skills that are going to help level the playing field for them when they go out into ... the real world,” Rao said.
Research shows that mentoring has an impact on career satisfaction and tangible aspects of employment such as salary in women’s lives, she said. The program’s uniqueness, Rao said, lies in its group mentoring model that allows students to learn from their mentors and from each other.
“Through the discussion, everybody learns from each other,” Rao said. “You have as much to learn from a struggle that the person next to you has gone through as what you can learn from the mentor.”
In the future, Rao said she hopes to expand Rutgers Business School GROWS and offer its benefits to as many Rutgers Business School women undergraduate students as possible.
Subhadha Kartik, a Rutgers Business School junior who is part of the Rutgers—New Brunswick cohort of Rutgers Business School GROWS, said she noticed the program had a diverse group of students.
“I feel like that in itself adds a lot of perspective, adds a lot of point of views, which can make the program a lot more worthwhile,” Kartik said.
Kenya Johnson, a Rutgers Business School junior and a mentee in the Rutgers—Newark cohort, said meeting other young women who have different perspectives but similar aspirations to grow and learn as people is helpful. Both mentees said Rutgers Business School GROWS has been important for their self-development.
“I think, as humans, we’re growing and learning each and every day if we take the right steps,” Johnson said. “And I think this is taking the right step, being a part of something like this.“