Global Mentorship and Supporting Women in STEM

In 2018, Northgate’s Principal Geologist Maile Smith took part in two volunteer delegations as part of the TechWomen program, traveling to both Nigeria and Malaysia. In 2019, as Northgate continues our social responsibility and commitment to mentoring women in science, Maile is headed to Uzbekistan. The purpose of the delegation trips is to engage and encourage women to consider a career path in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Penang Science Cluster_Penang_Malaysia

While women are gaining numbers in traditionally male-dominated fields, they are still significantly outnumbered in STEM. Among girls, interest in STEM begins to wane in early adolescence.  We believe it is critically important to cultivate their interest, provide them with positive role models, and show them that women can have fulfilling and interesting careers in these fields. These delegation exchanges have lasting impact on the girls and young women that Maile and the delegation group meet, demonstrate real-world pathways between education and career, and provide inspiration to use STEM skills to directly benefit their communities.

In Nigeria, the delegation provided mentoring sessions in Lagos and Abuja for young women at the start of their STEM careers, led workshops on topics such as design thinking and basic web development at a number of schools and universities, and facilitated networking events for women in STEM teaching and learning at several tech incubators and innovation hubs. In Malaysia, the delegation held roundtable discussions with the semi-finalists of the National Science Challenge and shared personal journeys to a career in STEM, mentored youth entrepreneurs at a co-working space sponsored by the Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative program, and participated in a networking event at the Petrosains Discovery Center where Maile and the delegation group gave feedback on business pitches from women entrepreneurs and held a panel discussion on how adversity and challenges can help build leadership skills.

This year in Uzebkistan, nearly 30 visiting fellows from Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tajikistan will attend, all supporting the delegation and contributing to the week’s sessions and workshops. They will unite with 16 mentors from the San Francisco Bay Area who represent the fields of UX design, engineering, geology, executive coaching and more.

Each delegation is organized by the US Department of State to develop cultural understanding between US citizens and citizens of other countries. TechWomen is a professional mentorship and exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that brings 100 women from the Middle East, Africa, and Central and South Asia to the San Francisco Bay Area each year for five weeks. Women and men volunteer to host and mentor the TechWomen “emerging leaders” during their time in the US and, hopefully, after the emerging leaders return to implement action plans in their home countries as fellows of the program.

Contact:  Maile Smith is a Principal Geologist and COO at Northgate. You can contact Maile at with questions on how to get involved.