Why do student internships matter?
Women are historically underrepresented in positions of power and influence. Currently, women comprise only 5.8% of CEOs and 20.2% of directors on the boards of Fortune 500 companies. Women hold just 19.4% of seats in Congress, and there are only 4 women governors in the country. The sooner we expose young women to professional opportunities in their fields of interest, the sooner they can begin to advance their career interests and professional trajectories. The barriers to workplace advancement start early.
What can we do as educators to expose our young women to professional opportunities and give them a jump start on workplace skill building? Helping students take their career aspirations and translate them into concrete plans for their futures is critical if we are to change women’s access to leadership positions in the workplace and society. Women remain underrepresented in boardrooms, elected offices, and executive suites (Marianne Cooper, Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research). Despite earning half of college degrees, “women are not at the table and their voices are not heard,” in business and government. When speaking about boards, committees, and other decision-making entities, Cooper shares, “the more powerful something is, the fewer women will be there.”