Across industries, there’s a growing demand and prevalence of mentorship programs, but for women of color who are carving their own paths, mentors remain difficult to find.
As lifelong learners, mentees continuously sharpen their skills and gain insight into the changes taking place in their field, which lead to tremendous career and personal advancements. Studies show that employees who have mentors earn higher salaries, are more likely to receive promotions and feel an overall increased satisfaction in their careers. Additionally, this professional support and counsel helps improve work-life balance, self-esteem and overall well being for both mentees and mentors.
Without mentorship, women of color are less likely to grow.
But not everyone is reaping the benefits of mentorship. According to Fast Company, women of color are less likely to have mentors. Moreover, those who do receive regular or occasional career guidance don’t often have mentors who look like them or share their experiences with systemic racism, classism, xenophobia and sexism. This absence is hurting women and stalling their careers. Without mentorship, women of color are less likely to grow and get promotions or pay increases. They’re also more likely to ignore microaggressions, be gaslit and eventually burnout—forcing many to withdraw from careers they’re passionate about.
Understanding the difficulty of sustaining and growing in careers without mentors, many Latinas have started their own programs and networks to connect women to leaders in their field who can provide them with those transformative one-on-one conversations. Whether you’re looking for advice, support or encouragement, these organizations for Latinas in journalism, STEM, higher education, business, film and more offer critical resources to help launch careers or take them to the next level:
Latinas in Journalism Mentorship Program
Founded by journalist Andrea González-Ramírez in 2020, the Latinas in Journalism Mentorship Program is a digital platform connecting Latinas and non-binary Latines who are starting their careers with more experienced women in the industry. People of color make up about 23% of newsroom jobs, and it’s often difficult for aspiring or early-career journos to find leaders in the industry with shared cultures, experiences, language and career interests. The program, modeled after Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s resource, Digital Women Leaders, allows mentees to search through a database of Latina journalists across different mediums and beats and set up one-on-one calls with the mentor of their choosing. Mentors are available for both one-off conversations as well as monthly check-ins. (Editor’s Note: The writer is a member of the Latinas in Journalism Mentorship Program).
Latinas in Tech
Latinas in Tech was founded in 2014 by Gretel Perera and Rocío Medina with the hopes of creating a community for Latinas in the tech industry. Through informal gatherings, they provided one another with career support. Since then, it has expanded into a network for professional development, recruiting and mentorship. Through their mentorship program, Latinas in Tech connects students, as well as early-career Latinas, to professionals who help them grow throughout the different stages of their professional lives via workshops as well as one-on-one conversations.
Latinas in Higher Education
Latinas in Higher Education, Inc. is a resource founded by Rosann Santos to help Latinas enter and advance in their professional careers in academia. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, only 5% of nationwide full-time instructors are Latines. The program’s slogan is to “lift as we grow,” and it accomplishes this through networking, mentorship, leadership and professional development opportunities with veterans in the field. Assistance, through mentorship and résumé-building consultations, takes place in person and online.
The Latinx in Publishing Writers Mentorship Program
Latinxs in Publishing is a network of book professionals committed to supporting and increasing the number of Latines in the publishing industry and promoting literature by, for and about Latinx people. One way the network meets this objective is through its Latinx in Publishing Writers Mentorship Program, a volunteer-based 10-month initiative that connects unpublished and/or non-agented writers, who apply for the program, with published authors who help strengthen their craft, provide them with first-hand industry knowledge and expand their professional connections.
Latinas in STEM
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers are among the most valuable, fastest-growing and highest-paying in the country, yet Latinas account for only 3% of the industry. Latinas in STEM, an organization founded in 2013, is working to get more Latinas in the field (and stay there!) by educating and inspiring K-12 students as well as mentoring college students and professionals so that they can thrive in their careers.
The Latino Film Institute (LFI) celebrates and strengthens the work of Latines in the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline, platform and launching pad for aspiring filmmakers in the community into the coveted business. This year, the organization is granting a fellowship to aspiring Afro-Latinx directors, which includes cash for projects as well as vital mentorship relationships with industry leaders. Mentors include seasoned executive producers, directors and writers.
The Eva Longoria Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Program
There’s no doubt that Latinas have strong entrepreneurial spirits. In the past decade, the number of Latina-owned firms in the United States rose by 137%. But, while Latinas are opening businesses at growing rates, many often struggle to keep the doors open. In an attempt to help, the Eva Longoria Foundation introduced an Entrepreneurship program for Latinas in business. The program includes a MicroLoan fund, which provides women with the capital they need to start or maintain their endeavors, as well as a mentorship component that trains Latinas on a path toward income stability and growth.