Alumna Spotlight: Holly Finch

Leadership Development Mentoring Workshops for Asian Women Engineers

Holly is a globalist and strategic leader, who enjoys learning and building relationships. She values diversity, inclusion, and the optimization of employee engagement. Holly is a quality professional with extensive experience in medical device and international work. She is currently the founder of Open-X-Change and serves on the SHIFT board of directors.

MAOL students complete an action research project to address a current leadership issue. For Holly’s project, she designed and piloted a series of workshops focused on leadership development for Asian Women in STEM careers. Below is a brief summary of her work and findings.


Scope and Purpose

I designed, piloted, and evaluated the impact of a short series of leadership development mentoring workshops for Asian women engineers at a Fortune 500 STEM organization. This project focused on Asian women as mentees because this population is currently under-represented in STEM leadership roles. The women engineers who participated self-identified as Asian and were from Bangladesh, China, and India.

Findings

The short pilot series of mentoring workshops was successful and valuable to Asian women’s leadership development in STEM careers. All ten participants, both mentees and mentors, indicated strong interest in learning and sharing their experiences through the mentoring program. Mentees reported they were more to likely become self-advocates of their leadership development after attending the workshops. Self-advocacy for mentees’ leadership development and growth was the core objective of the workshops. All ten participants, both mentees and mentors, indicated strong interest in learning and sharing their STEM leadership experiences through the leadership development mentoring program.

Recommendations

Leadership development mentoring programs should be researched-based and should be focused on a needs-based framework, including differences in cultural values, to ensure that programs do not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. While employers should increase the numbers of sponsors, advocates, mentors, and role models who are culturally, ethnically, and gender diverse, all employees (non-Asians and Asians) can become their own change agents to address the under-representation of Asian women in leadership roles in their STEM organization by supporting, modeling, and educating the workplace culture about the perceptions of Asian women as leaders.