International Women’s day is March 8th, 2021, on this day we remember what our ancestors and women that have come before us have done for us; to be who we are today. This year we have decided to choose to challenge, not just individuals’ political views, or our stance on health care or equal pay but ourselves.

 “A challenged word is an alert word. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.” 

So with this in mind, I challenge you to take the pledge to choose to challenge something, anything. 

Today I choose to challenge gender bias in the fitness industry, in health care. Women can be just as strong, just as powerful, and just as hardworking as their counterparts. 

But how does one do this? Take a stand in what you believe in, follow individuals that have the same ideas and beliefs as you do. Sign petitions, stand up in public meetings, and make your voice heard. Because if you don’t stand up then who will. 

If you’re still not sure where to start, use the link and educate yourself. Knowledge is power, and that is how things change. 

Resources on how to get started 

Happy International Women’s Day, now go change the world! 


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Reflections on the Leadership Mentoring Session

The Mentoring Program at Women Accelerators features monthly group learning sessions in addition to pairing mentors with mentees for one on one personalized professional development. 

The session this month focused on LEADERSHIP. This panel style discussion featured three of our mentors who have much experience on this topic: Szifta Birke, Robin Rose, and Deirdre Pierotti. You can learn more about these women on our mentoring page

Robin highlighted the opportunities that can come from volunteering at your company. A general event or fundraising planning committee can allow you to meet members across your organization that you wouldn’t normally interact with on a day to day basis. The more exposure you have to different functions and their operations, the more valuable you are. It could get you considered for new development projects that you didn’t even know about. Think of this as a way to network in your own company! I’m kicking myself because I worked at a large company for 2 years that had so many different employee engagement groups that I never joined. Truly a missed opportunity. Now working at smaller companies that don’t have those options, I realized- why not start my own group

Leadership is all about continuous learning– Szifta has a lifetime of experience and yet has enrolled in a class that is teaching Crucial Conversations from a different lens. This really resonated with me. If you aren’t constantly reading articles about leadership, reading professional development books, or listening to podcasts on the topic, then what you’ve learned in the past fades. Leadership is a muscle and you need to work on keeping it in shape. For anyone who hasn’t read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, I HIGHLY recommend it. The first time I read it was 4 years ago. With 4 more years of industry experience and taking on more responsibility, I think it’s time I reread it with a new perspective!

Another key point that Deirdre stressed was knowing your value (also a book). I think this is especially important for women in the workforce. How often do we hear about male coworkers making significantly more in the same role? Being able to recognize how much you offer your company and asking for your value is a very different aspect of leadership. It’s speaking up for yourself, which is always the hardest. Circling back to the previous point, Crucial Conversations, has personally helped me navigate those conversations! This topic has come up a lot recently with my girlfriends. Two of my close friends, and myself, have quit our jobs for better opportunities. Making change is difficult, but when you know you’re overworked and undervalued, it’s time to make a change. Talk about this with your friends- too often we say everything is fine and portray the #bossbabe lifestyle on social media. We need to normalize talking about career dips, changes, and not being happy in our current role. Knowing your value and demanding it is easier with a support system.

This was a great session with valuable insight from women who have decades of experience. I can’t wait for next month’s session! The program runs January to June, with the application process beginning each fall. If you have FOMO reading this, join us next year! In the meantime, we’ll keep our resources page up to date for you. 

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Start 2021 on the Right Foot and put your Goals into Action

It is safe to say that 2020 was not what any of us expected. Many of us have overcome great things this year, but before 2020 leaves us, it is time to plan our success and what we will achieve in 2021!

The best way to get where you are going is to actively plan the way…. Failure to set goals may result in not achieving things that are most important to you. Goal setting can include personal and professional goals to help provide you with focus and direction. Creating goals you are passionate about and working towards goal achievement provides you with things to look forward to each day when you wake up and start working.

As you start thinking about your goals, it is necessary to take a step back and figure out why something is important to you, why might this goal motivate you?  If you can’t articulate why a goal is important, then you are not likely to achieve your goals.  It is important that you know what you want and if the work needed to achieve the goal is worth your commitment.

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be.  Put your future in good hands – your own.” 

Mark Victor Hansen

When setting goals, work to make short and long term goals that are reasonable, measurable, and time specific.  Make sure to write these goals down and keep them visible be it in your planner or computer screen to allow you to reflect and track your progress through the year.  You may want to allow for 15-20 minutes each week on Sunday evening to evaluate your success and any adaptations that are needed.  Reflecting on the past week can display your achievements and work done to help you visualize success is achievable.

After setting your goals make sure that you put your well thought plan into action.  Setting goals is the easy part, action becomes the hardest part.  Trust in yourself and put in the work necessary to achieve goal success.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” 

Henry Ford

Time is your most important asset, be cautious what you say yes to and make sure that your time aligns with your goals!  Stay focused on what matters and persist on until you achieve your goals.

Make 2021 a great year!

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Fall Recipes

Women Accelerators is giving thanks and celebrating in different ways this year. Our extended family may not all be under one roof for the holidays, but we can still cook together and break bread virtually.

Click here to see some of our favorite fall recipes and share them with your loved ones! Remember: although we’re distant, technology allows us to reach out and fill our homes with the laughter of friends and family from afar.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Download Fall Recipes

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Here’s What You Need to Know About Environmental Justice

You may have started hearing the terms ‘environmental racism’ and ‘environmental justice’ more often recently. Maybe you’re hearing them for the first time. The concept of discrimination perpetrated through placing minority and low-income communities at greater environmental risk is what Kamala Harris was talking about in her speech at the DNC. It’s something that health scientists are talking about. It’s part of what Ed Markey wants to combat with his Green New Deal. While COVID-19 has triggered a larger and more imminent conversation about environmental justice, it is not a new concept. Here’s what you need to know to begin learning about environmental justice.

1. The EJ Movement been around for decades, and they’ve done the research

While the awakening to environmental contamination started decades before, the grassroots movement concerned with environmental justice and activism began in earnest in the 1980s. Over the years, local victims have joined the movement as they began to experience the impacts in their own neighborhoods.

In 1984, the California Waste Management Board contracted Cerrell Associates to write a report identifying the “characteristics of communities least likely to resist the siting of waste incineration facilities”. Communities found to be “affluent” and “wealthy” were taken out of the consideration for these sites. Communities described by words like “depressed”, “distressed” and “minority-owned” were favorable. They concluded that communities made up of college-educated, middle- and upper-class professionals would have more wherewithal, political power, and ability to organize against the pollution of their homes, while low income, less educated, rural communities would not.

Over the years we’ve seen how this targeting of certain communities has led to increased hazardous waste, air, and water pollution in those areas. The Farmworkers Union in the San Joaquin Valley of California has spent decades fighting pesticide contamination of the fields in which they work as well as the areas in which they live. An article published in 1992 stated that “about 10% of total pesticide use in the USA is in the San Joaquin Valley”, and it is still an issue today.

This research article shows that, in the US, fine particulate matter exposure “is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities. On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a “pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption.”

Children are more susceptible to the health impacts of exposure to air pollution and other toxicants. The Clark County school district in Nevada released data that showed during the 2006-2007 school year, “African American students had the highest rates of asthma by race (13.4%) followed by Hispanic/Latino students (6.6%). Furthermore, asthma is the single leading cause of missed school days in the nation and has been shown to be a significant factor in absenteeism leading to being held back a grade in Clark County Schools.”

The use of surface mining techniques, where companies use millions of pounds of explosives to remove mountaintops in order to excavate the coal underneath, has led to a water crisis in areas like Appalachia and taken a “catastrophic toll on the health of those whose water supply lies in its path”. Residents can’t use their tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, or bathing. One man had his water tested and was told it was so toxic that, if he washed his clothes in it, there was a possibility direct sunlight could set his clothes on fire. People are having to drive for more than an hour to stock up on bottled water. This, of course, has environmental and economic domino effects when it comes to the use and price of gas as well as the production of plastic water bottles.

2. Be wary of government groups meant to protect your environment

In 1992, The National Law Journal published its findings from an investigation into government agencies’ roles in environmental injustice. The opening statement reads:

“The federal government, in its cleanup of hazardous sites and its pursuit of polluters, favors white communities over minority communities under environmental laws meant to provide equal protection for all citizens.”

They found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) favored white communities over minority communities when it came to placing penalties on sites violating environmental laws as well as the clean-up of abandoned hazardous waste sites. Today, we continue to see our government refusing to be part of the global solution to environmental issues and even choosing to roll back protections that have been put in place, putting minority communities in greater danger by doing so.

Unfortunately, we cannot talk about environmental injustice without getting political. Environmental discrimination is made possible by politicians and people in power who sign off on the policies and regulations that lead to these injustices. Our votes are more important than ever.

3. Environmental injustice does not happen in a vacuum

For decades, the dumping of toxic waste, pesticide usage, and exposure to air and water pollution has been more prevalent in low-income communities than affluent ones. These factors cause health issues in people with less access to affordable healthcare, which can lead to being held back from academic advancement thus causing a disproportionate lack of opportunity and professional development. These underlying health issues also make people more susceptible to disease, like the coronavirus.

However, at some point in the not-so-distant future, what is hurting our minority communities will hurt us all. The domino effect that starts with the farmers in San Joaquin Valley and the coal mining towns of Appalachia will end with contaminating every community. There is no way to keep polluted air and water strictly within minority neighborhood boundaries. There are so many circumstances in which we take preventative measures – in times of war, with our health – why would we not do the same for our environment? By the time all of our air and water is affected, it will be too late.

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Women Accelerators receive Women Working Wonders Fund Grant

Women Working Wonders Fund

Lowell, MA – The Women Accelerators was awarded the Women Working Wonders Fund Grant in August 2020 to support their Accelerating Women Leadership Program. The objective of the Women Working Wonders Fund is to support organizations and activities that contribute to leadership development in girls and women. This grant fulfills Women Accelerators’ mission of giving women the tools they need to succeed professionally and to effect meaningful change leading to closing the gender gap.

The Accelerating Women Leadership Program is a comprehensive 6-month boot camp designed to empower women to develop the strategic mindset, leadership skills, and powerful network they need to achieve their personalized leadership goals. The program is built upon eight pillars of leadership: Communication, Strategic Relationships, Visibility, Influence, Strategic Mindset, TimeManagement, Career Goals, and Confidence. These pillars represent fundamental leadership capabilities and address the unique challenges that women face in the workplace. We will also invite diverse female speakers to discuss the topics of diversity in the workplace and salary negotiation as part of the program.

The program was conceived by Kim Meninger, who is a certified Executive and Leadership Coach and the President of the Lowell Chapter of Women Accelerators.  “Previous program participants have reported finding new jobs, earning promotions, speaking up more confidently, and assuming more strategic responsibilities as a result of their engagement in this program,” said Kim Meninger, President of the Lowell Chapter of Women Accelerators. “We could not be more excited to bring the program to Women Accelerators and early-career women in the Merrimack Valley more broadly and we are grateful for the support from the Women Working Wonders Fund.”

The Accelerating Women Leadership Program will be starting in January 2021. It will be free and prioritized to early-stage women in the following geographic areas: Ashby, Ayer, Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Lowell, Pepperell, Shirley, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Westford, Wilmington.

We are grateful to the Women Working Wonders Fund and excited to offer this pilot program in 2021. Registration will begin in October 2020. Sign up here for our program.

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Race Around Us – Stop Ignoring It

I grew up white and privileged without realizing it until June 2020. I lived in a small town and went to a big high school. I went to football games and played sports. If you could look up a typical middle-class white female family of four, mine would probably pop up.

I had two black individuals in my school. Just two, in a sea of 400 students per grade you could see how I grew up thinking that race and color didn’t matter in my eyes, everyone was equal.

I went to a public college in Rhode Island. I had a small awakening to the amount of race and colors I saw. Again, it didn’t bother me if you were Black, White, Hispanic, Latino, etc. As long as you were kind, I had no problem with you.

The first sign of racism I ever saw was when I was with one of my housemates. A black female, we went shopping and were being followed in the store. I couldn’t figure out why, so I asked the sales rep. I told her we didn’t need any help and she just gave this look. Like I was lying to her or something; so we left the store. Again, it had never occurred to me that this was an individual being racist against my best friend and me.

Of course, there have been incidents in the world since that but it never got my attention, I never took the time to learn until George Floyd. If you missed it, or were under a rock somewhere hiding out from being exposed to COVID. Then here’s a brief overview of what happened.

George Floyd a man who was killed by a police officer for no reason. He was strangled by the officer’s knee until he physically could not breathe anymore. This ignited a tumulus movement, Black Lives Matter that spread across the country. A civil rights movement that has been needed for quite some time. It brought out all the wrong full deaths that have occurred to black individuals for generations. The worst of it that no one was paying attention to these deaths until George Floyd went viral.

Since then everyone, well everyone should be taking the time to learn and educate themselves about black history, race and how people of color have been treated. I want to say that we haven’t been aware but the awakening of it all is that we have been sitting by and watching everything happen. When a black man is atomically assumed that he will rob or fight you. When a position is passed on from a black to a white individual is it because they are more qualified or is it because of the color of their skin? Do you automatically think basketball player when you see a black man? You think angry b***h when you see a black female complaining? This my friend is bias and racist.

I have read five books since June especially teaching me about black culture and history and what the heck it was like growing up as a black individual (listed below). Here is what I have learned.

  • If you see a black individual on the streets greet them like any other human being.
  • If a black female was passed up for a position in your workplace and a white female or male got it, bring it to HR’s attention and ask why this happened.
  • Stop thinking just because someone in the news is black means they deserved what happened to them.
  • Stop and remember what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for instead of using the holiday as a day off of work.
  • Sign petitions, donate to Mutual Aid Funds
  • Buy from Black-Owned Business, look up black-owned stores.
  • Stop thinking color doesn’t exist.
  • Go vote

Now, I know this isn’t everything I learned but if you want to learn more then pick up a book, listen to a podcast. This isn’t going to go away, it’s time to start the change today and we need to do this together.


  • So you want to talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
  • Me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad
  • Eloquent Rage by Brittany Cooper
  • Stamped from the Beginning  by Ibram X. Kendi

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The thing that major milestones have taught us

Life is not something we could be taught about. We can be warned, lectured and told about the experiences of our elders that have already gone through. With every day that passes and every new milestone I hit. I find that I carry those lessons and experiences with me to the next big opportunity that presents itself in my life. These are the lessons that change us, lessons that shape us. Lessons that we learn by actually being engaged and living. These are the things that cause us to change, not the people we surround ourselves with.

  1.   Life presents itself as it should, Not according to my schedule

Wishing for things would happen the way you want typically doesn’t go the way it is planned. No one expected there to be travel bans and businesses to be shut down, but it happened. All those plans that were put into place months ago have now been postponed or canceled. It can be upsetting and frustrating in that moment but think about in the long run. This one moment may be super frustrating right then and there but think about how this can help you adapt to other situations that don’t go your way.

  1.   Less is More

I don’t know about you but when I see something, I usually go full force and invest all my time into it. By doing this something those other things that are in my life get the short string. I point out that balancing those priorities should be at the top of your list whenever you pick up a new interest.

  1.   People deserve a second chance

That moment you forgive somebody, chances are that you will also give them a second chance, that chance to be close to you, without trying to remind them of what they did. By doing this you are allowing them to grow and become better and better every day.

  1.   The world won’t change if you don’t change

You hear people all the time complaining about how crazy the world is now and how they want it to change, but if you tell them to make the first step. They will back away and make excuses on why they can’t. If we want the world to change, we have to start with ourselves.

  1.   Your education is never complete

Determine to live fully and continually learn. Prepare for what life has to teach by being open to the lesson in everything you do and experience

  1.   Never settle for average

Whether you are applying for a new job, a significant other, working on yourself. Never just settle for the easy way out; you will never find your everyday joy if you just go through the motions everyday. So if you’re sitting in an interview and they say they will hire you for ‘X’ amount but you know you are worth ‘Y’ amount then why not ask and show initiative and prove that you are worth that experience and degree you have worked so hard for.

Think about it now. What challenges or achievements have you brought along with you to your next milestone? What have you learned, make a list of the things you want to change next time and what you want to keep. I guarantee you that it will make a difference in the next time reach that milestone.

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Using Quarantine to Your Advantage

When I was told that I had to come home for quarantine I was thrilled. I was going to use it to my advantage to broaden my horizons and learn new things I’ve been putting off. I wanted to add to my business by learning how to code and increase my skills for school, I wanted to read books that have been sitting on my shelf for months.

If you’re in the same boat and want to take advantage of this time of being home here’s your kick in the butt to keep motivated and maybe even make a positive mark on a negative situation.

So why not increase your appeal to a potential job: Get a new certification in your field. A lot of certification can be gained online quickly and can be inexpensive as well. Use this time to become familiar with the companies that your interested in; social media presence. If they don’t have one learn about graphic design apps that are user friendly so you can help build their presence. You can use this opportunity to completely redo your resume. Make it bold and stand out, the top 1/3 of the documents should grab your attention. Use key words that have been used in the job description you are applying for.  If you don’t feel comfortable working on it on your own you can hire someone to look over your resume for you. You can use zoom or team meeting for a face to face meeting.

Take on a new language: Since most of us are connected to your phones just about 24/7 what better way to use them, than by downloading an app to teach you something new. Such as Babbel or Duolingo, both apps are user friendly and slowly introduce you to learning a new language.


Get creative: Have you also enjoyed art and graphic design but never had time to really learn the ins and outs of it? There are hundreds of tutorials on YouTube for free that can teach you how to use Photoshop and lightroom and edit your designs, even just take a free art class.  If you have a camera, take the time and go outside. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all day.  Were you a painter at one point in your life and put it away because life got a little crazy? Well now is the perfect time to idle those hands again.

Take control of your health: Have you been struggling to stay on track with your goals, do you want to avoid losing all your progress you’ve made in your health in the past few months? Join an online fitness community following a live workout that personal trainers and gyms are hosting on social media. Test out new recipes with items just in your home, replace out habits with new ones. Start by drinking more water each day, small changes like this can make a big difference down the road.

           So now that I’ve shown you the limitless opportunities you have why not take advantage of them. Start showing up for yourself and prove that quarantine isn’t just a period of isolation.

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Artist in Quarantine

I lost my job due to Covid-19. It was a fantastic job that I was lucky to have. The job was in my chosen field, I was well qualified for it, I had a lot of responsibility, trust, overcame many challenges, and I loved my boss. At the time of writing this we are faced with the uncertainty of whether the company will be able to reopen once this wave has passed. Despite how much I loved my job, I must admit this job was never my end goal.

I double majored in English and Studio Art in college. Two years in I discovered that my passion was painting. I had been painting since I could walk; my first mural came at age four on the second floor wall of our brand new family home, made using finger paints, spanning the length of the hallway and as far high as I could touch. I was quite proud of my masterpiece. My mother was less pleased. It took until my Senior year of college to hear someone tell me that they believed I could pursue painting as a career. Those words of encouragement came from my painting professor who I held in the highest regard. The most startling part of what he told me was not that he believed I could become great; it was that he expected me to become great. Unfortunately, there is no linear way to be an artist. In most fields people are said to have “paved the way” for others. I often feel that I am bushwhacking my own path.

There is one proven way of becoming a successful artist. Making. As often as possible. There are these programs called artist-in-residence. These programs are designed to take an artist of any medium and provide them a prescribed amount of time away from distractions and their normal life in order to produce their work. Usually these occur out in the forest, on deserted islands, or in foreign cities. Anywhere that will give the artist inspiration and freedom. They are usually expensive and often competitive but every artist I know who has participated in one has raved about their experience, created killer work, and immediately searched for another opportunity.

Given my sudden abundance of free time and nowhere to go this seemed like the perfect moment to create my own artist-in-residence or what I like to call my “artist-in-quarantine”. As things began to shut down, I ordered an abundance of art supplies and got to work. I spend most days now locked in my apartment creating. I usually have a podcast or audiobook playing and I create however I feel like on that day. This was important to me as I did not want to box myself into a specific goal or obtuse expectations. I wanted to see what would come of me making art for my own sake. My work has spanned drastically so far from huge paintings to small paintings, drawings, and even making a coloring book for my niece and yes, okay, I painted a bedroom like everyone else. My apartment is covered in art supplies. There is a painting in progress on almost every flat surface. I have a rolling cart with my tools, and I follow the light and any spark of inspiration around my space like a sundial. I take my dog for walks and I make indulgent desserts. My techniques are developing, and I try to remember to breathe.

This is a stressful and frankly terrifying time for us all. I’m not trying to be heroic or make light of what is going on. I also know that I am not the only artist to be doing this. I am incredibly lucky to have a stable place to live and a loving family who are making sure I don’t starve and occasionally take a painting away from me before I destroy it. I am doing what I need to do to feel sane during a time that is not sane at all. I don’t know the right way and I am not naive enough to think how I am proceeding is the right way for everyone, but it is the right way for me.

You can request custom paintings by Christina Mignosa via emailing [email protected] or by checking out her Instagram @christinamignosaart


Painting: “Self-portrait: quarantine” (16×20)

Painting: “Gooseberry Beach” (16×20)

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Investing in developing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment.

As an organization, Women Accelerators aims to help advance women and promote gender equity though creating a centralized network and community where women can access resources to help achieve their career goals.

Women Accelerators welcomed Dr. Alexis Stokes in February to meet their community to discuss issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Dr. Stokes serves as the Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the Harvard School of Engineering where she creates systematic changes to support the success of unrepresented minorities, nontraditional students, and education programs.

Below is a summary of Dr. Stokes presentation with information and tips that can be discussed and utilized in your workplace.

Why are diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations essential?

The world demographics are changing which impacts all environments.  This creates a need to change and innovate the way that organizations have always done things.  Organizations can empower their communities to get involved and create an environment where the culture values diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Inclusive practices benefit everyone within an organization, not just diverse employees.

How can organizations help create diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces?

It is much more than just hiring an individual for a diversity position.  It is about influencing the organizational culture to move beyond simply working in an inclusive environment to contributing to an inclusive environment.  Understanding the culture (beliefs, customs, acts) of a group helps develop a strategy to invite and encourages individuals into a conversation and create connections to what is valued.  The process should allow individuals in a group to use their privilege and powers to help others.  Organizations need to prioritize this as important work that they do as individuals as well as teams.

It is essential that organizations are clear and transparent with employees as to where they currently stand in the journey to become diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments.  Sharing a process and timeline can be helpful to allow individuals to visualize how getting involved can impact this work.  Being open and honest around data and decisions can allow people to feel more included in work that is going on and to start conversations and help make connections.

For an organization to work on diversity, inclusion, and equity, what resources are necessary?

Organizational culture is a shared responsibility where everyone needs to contribute.  Creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment requires ongoing commitment and resources to make the initiative successful.  Necessary resources include: budget, staffing, a communication plan to internal and external groups, connection to those who hold influential positions in the organization, visibility within the organization, access to data and resources, and training that enhances knowledge and action.

What steps should an organization take to create action around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

An organization needs to include these values as part of their mission. All departments and groups should be held responsible for reporting on their progress and success. Creating accountability as individuals, teams, and organizations helps to develop a culture where expectations, commitment, and reporting become the norm.  Additionally, organizations need to share data with people as this knowledge helps to influence actions.

What are some suggestions around how reporting can be done to understand the impact on efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

There are several ways that impact can be evaluated.  They include:

  • Develop initiative into an organizations strategic plan and create a congruent diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan that supplements the larger plan.
  • Develop/implement a community standard or code of conduct.
  • Goal setting on measurable activities or tasks.
  • Include in employee evaluations a way for each induvial to share what they have done to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Track progress on initiatives implemented and shared findings with the organization.

What can individuals do to support the creation or further development of diversity, equity, and inclusion through their work?

Individuals have the power to influence and create change in many ways:

  • Provide micro affirmations of positive things you see and experience. These can be very effective and help others create a culture that respects diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Give credit to others when appropriate and try to use “we” more than “I” to create a group culture.
  • Ask others for opinions and feedback, especially if you notice that they have not had an opportunity to speak.
  • Use the preferred pronouns for individuals and work to use inclusive language and images.
  • Make eye contact with those you are working and speaking with to create a connection.
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Greater Lowell Community Foundation Announces Fiscal Sponsorship of Women Accelerators

Lowell, MA – The Greater Lowell Community Foundation announces the recent fiscal sponsorship of Women Accelerators, an organization passionate about promoting the advancement of women and bridging the gender gap. Women Accelerators is based in Massachusetts with chapters in Lowell and Cambridge.

The mission of Women Accelerators is to provide a centralized network where career-focused women can access resources tailored to their career goals. By offering educational programs, networking and mentoring, they help women navigate opportunities that nurture female leaders efficiently. Their vision is to generate a community of like-minded, high-achieving women, who help each other succeed in the workplace.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation as the fiscal sponsor for Women Accelerators. The GLCF has a wealth of experience and the necessary resources to assist us in our mission of helping women with their career advancement. By pairing with GLCF, we gain valuable insights into fundraising and learn the tools for being more efficient in managing a nonprofit. Teaming with GLCF will help us to build a stronger community,” said Susu Wong, co-founder of Women Accelerators.

“We see the foundation’s support of Women Accelerators as an important opportunity to optimize the excellence of this organization that serves women in all stages of their careers,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF President and CEO. “We are proud to partner on their vision of equity in the workplace.”

For more information and a full event listing, visit: womenaccelerators.org.

Donations to any fund at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, including the Women Accelerators, can be made online at www.glcfoundation.org/donate or by mail to the Women Accelerators c/o GLCF, 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852.

For more information on the Greater Lowell Community Foundation please visit www.glcfoundation.org.

About Greater Lowell Community Foundation

The Greater Lowell Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization comprised of over 350 funds, currently totaling over $39MM, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life in

20 neighboring cities and towns. The Community Foundation annually awards grants and scholarships to hundreds of worthy nonprofits and students. It is powered by the winning combination of donor-directed giving, personal attention from its staff, and an in-depth understanding of local needs. The generosity of our donors has enabled the Community Foundation to award more than $15 million to the Greater Lowell Community since 1999.

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The Women Accelerators 2019 Mentoring Program Wrap-up

Written by Huan Rui, Ph.D., a computational chemist at Amgen. Huan is currently the president at Women Accelerators. She served as the program chair during the 2019 mentoring program.

No one can deny the benefits of having mentors who lift us up and help us in our careers. There can be times when it feels uncertain who could guide us through difficult situations.

But remember, mentorship does not have to be formal and you can have more than one mentor. One of the informal mentorship models I like is peer mentoring. It happens more often than you think. Think of a time you asked a friend or a coworker about something that you did not know well but they did. Usually, you get the answer you need. You come to them because you think that they are the experts in the topic and this is often well perceived and appreciated. Another way to get mentoring opportunities is to talk to your manager or advisor directly and express to them your needs. Many companies and academic institutes already have a mentoring program in place, but in case yours do not, it is absolutely OK you ask. 

If you are too shy to ask for help from people you know, there are also many mentoring opportunities online or in-person offered by different organizations that can fit your needs. At Women Accelerators, we have been running a mentoring program for seven years. We have an extensive network of mentors and our graduates are in a variety of fields like academia, biotech, law, and management. The program starts in January and ends in June of each year, but the applications start in October the year before. (That is if you want to be part of the 2020 program, the application is coming up.) As a mentee of the program, during each month you meet with your mentor for an hour to discuss the issues you need help with. Some popular topics include effective job search, salary negotiation, self-branding, and so on. Many of our previous year participants have expressed their appreciation of the program:

“My mentoring experience has been great so far! I feel so lucky for being matched with my mentor. She has introduced countless helpful resources in career building and was so supportive when I told her (halfway through the program) that I have decided to make a career change. I think we have made a relationship that will continue on far after the mentoring program has ended.”  – Candace Anderson, 2019 program mentee

A lot of efforts have been put in by our passionate volunteers to improve the program each year. For example, in the past year, we implemented a matching algorithm based on the common interests of the mentors and mentees. It follows the work done by the 2012 Nobel Laureates in Economics, Dr. Alvin Roth on market design and game theory (Roth and Peranson, 1999). It works by matching the parties by their preferential rankings of each other, therefore maximizing the overall commonality between the mentors and mentees. We have also started a Slack channel for the mentees to communicate with each other and share what they have learned. We will keep on testing new ideas and make the mentoring program experience better. 

Roth, Alvin, E., and Elliott Peranson. 1999. “The Redesign of the Matching Market for American Physicians: Some Engineering Aspects of Economic Design.” American Economic Review, 89 (4): 748-780

Check out a Mentee’s Perspective of the 2018 Mentoring Wrap up

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My personal journey of mentoring

Written by Huan Rui, Ph.D., a computational chemist at Amgen. Huan is currently the president at Women Accelerators. She served as the program chair during the 2019 mentoring program.

After more than twenty years in school, I finally landed a job that I like and pays well. I moved to Boston with loads of ambition and an open mind. When Susu Wong, the cofounder of Women Accelerators approached me at a networking event and told me about her non-profit that helps women succeed in their careers, I instantly took a liking of her and her organization. I decided to volunteer. Once I found out that Women Accelerators has an annual mentoring program, with my academic background and my enthusiasm in helping others, I became the program chair for 2019. 

Coming from an engineering background, I understand how hard it is to not have a mentor to guide you through difficult times. I studied bioinformatics in college. It is one of those majors that have a severe skewed male to female ratio. On top of that, the school I went to was an engineering school and that did not help restore the ratio balance. Almost all my teachers and peers were men. It was very difficult to relate to them. But still, I finished my degree with a reasonably good GPA and moved to the US in pursuit of a Ph.D. in computational biology. Again, I had the same problem finding a role model. This is also the time I realized that I am not only woman, I am a queer woman. At the time, marriage equality was only in a few states and many members of the LGBTQ community in academia were not publicly. I could not find a single faculty member in my department or any related departments that is both woman and gay. I was lucky that I found a community of folks who support LGBTQ rights in the small college town. We became friends; we supported each other. We organized “Food Not Bomb” events feeding the homeless and the poor. We went to underground art shows and concerts. We participated in marches demanding women’s rights. It was through these events that I learned how to organize and lead. These people are my friends and also my mentors. We helped each other grow.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Often times we may find ourselves in situations where we are the only ones and there is no place we can turn for answers. When this happens, do not be afraid. Instead, we should give ourselves a pat on the back, because this means that we are on a road that no one else has traveled before and we are truly the pioneers. There is a Chinese saying, “to be the first one eating the crabs”. Imagine if you have not seen a crab before, would you be willing to eat it? Only after you taste it that you discover its deliciousness. The moral of the story is that being brave and having an open mind can lead to pleasant discoveries. Be brave when you are on your own. 

Continue to read Huan’s next blog on Women Accelerator’s Mentoring Program.

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5 Simple Self Care Tips for Fall

With a summer that surely expired quicker than we all would like, it’s almost time for the weather to change again. Fall in Boston has so many redeeming qualities: colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, apple picking (see: apple donuts) and your favorite warm drink.

Unfortunately, this time of year can also bring extra anxiety and sometimes an overwhelming increase in items on the ‘to-do’ list. As we plan for the upcoming start of classes, new jobs, and whatever else may be on the horizon, it is important to remember that it’s not all about the hustle. Slowing down and taking time for YOU is vital for well-being and long-term productivity.

When you are happy and managing stress, you are performing better overall – so, to help our followers stay at the top of their game we compiled these 5 tips for self care.

  1. Take time for soul-searching before taking action

Something often overlooked in self care is the importance of individual consideration. No number of spa days will cure the overwhelming stress of working in a role that is a major mismatch; or, working within culture that mismatches with your own personal beliefs.

Taking some time to clear your head, identify a root cause or a personal need can be the best gift to yourself. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or in personal matters and aren’t able to quash the stress or anxiety, take time to soul search. If there is something or someone in your life causing you pain, and you are able to distance yourself, then that may be the best self care possible. Similarly, if you used to love to paint (or name a hobby) but haven’t had time for it lately, maybe it’s time to pick up that brush and see if it is the escape you needed.

Our leadership team is composed of a diverse group of women and we all have different self-care rituals. You must find what works for you.

Have trouble slowing your mind down long enough to think? Sometimes the best way to think is to pause long enough to catch your breath & be present – Try one of these guided meditation apps to find your zen:



Insight Timer


& for the skeptic who is not sure that they want to meditation, read this.

  1. Hit the weights

Getting into an exercise routine can be the hardest part with a busy schedule but blocking time on your calendar and following through is worth it! There is no prescribed time for the positive results of exercise so just get your blood pumping even if that means taking 10-15 minutes each morning to do push ups and sit ups before your morning routine.

Research shows that exercise can relieve stress, reduce depression and improve cognitive function. But don’t just take our word for it:

Harvard Health on exercising to relax.

American Psychological Association on the stress and exercise link.

American Heart Association on working out to relieve stress.

  1. Indulge in a spa day

A spa day doesn’t mean you need to take an entire day off (unless you can – then treat yourself). Instead, choose a service that makes you happy and relax. Taking an hour to get your nails done or get a massage could be “your” meditation.  Changing up your hair or nails can be a boost of confidence. A spa day isn’t going to fully change your self perception BUT it gives you a chance to step back and refresh your look (& hopefully outlook on life).

Having a positive self image can impact your daily life and part of that is how you feel in your skin. Think through these positive thinking strategies as you pick out your new fall nail color (helpful for perfectionists like me!).

  1. Take a walk

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed out and aren’t able to take time off (yet) –  sometimes the best thing to do is take a walk. Even taking a walk around the office or around the building outside can do wonders for clearing your head or helping you cool down from a tense situation in the classroom or boardroom. Walking removes you from the stressors and the stressful environment and can give you much needed fresh perspective.

For even more value on your walk – take a friend. Use the walk to vent or get feedback on an issue you are facing. Or use the time to connect with someone you may not normally talk to and make a new friend in the process.

  1. READ

If time off of work for travel & relaxation is out of the question, take your mind on vacation. One of the easiest ways to escape is to dive into a good book and feel immersed in its pages.

If you have a long commute (shout out to the MBTA), you can take 10-15 minutes to step away from your stressors and imagine a different world or learn something new. Once you reach your destination, you will at least have a fresh perspective on your environment and maybe even a few ideas to tackle the day’s challenges!

 Check out these 24 reads under 200 pages (both fiction and non-fiction).

“Self-care is how you take your power back.”

– Lalah Delia

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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Essential Management Skills for New Managers

Written by Susu Wong based on Etta Jacob’s How to Improve Your Management Skills Webinar.

Etta Jacobs, Founder of Hermes Path and an Executive and Career Transition Coach has a  passion for helping people reach their highest potential.  We were honored to have Etta as a speaker for two webinars in January where she shared  “How to Improve Your Management Skills.”

The webinars were highly interactive and the attendees were encouraged to chat about their challenges and experiences as managers. Many attendees said that one of the hardest adjustments was delegation because they were used to being individual contributors. Why do new managers have a hard time delegating? An underlying reason is managers think they can do it faster and better than their team members. Training people takes time and can take as much as eight months but the time is worth the reward.


Why Delegate?

New managers are no longer being judged on their own merit, but rather by the performance of their entire team. They also have other responsibilities and assignments from their supervisors creating a wedge in the ranking file. When a new strategy rolls out, such as a new product, programs, or service offering from their supervisors, the middle managers have to make sure it gets implemented on time, on budget, and on top of everything else on their plate. Delegating tasks and setting expectations for their team will make it easier for managers to get their jobs done because they can no longer do everything.  Let your team figure things out on their own and guide them along the way. Be clear about communicating your expectations and the outcomes you are looking for— this will help them know if they are heading in the right direction.

One of the observations Etta made was that no matter how you think of yourself, your title will precede you into the room. Your team is constantly watching everything you do and sizing you up. You should assume competence, and fake it until you make it!


Can friends be your employees?

This is especially challenging if you become your friend’s boss after a period of acting as peers. Your new status can make it difficult for you to remain friends so you have to consider your day to day roles and may have to change your behavior and interaction. Set boundaries between you and your friends to help avoid conflict of interest issues and even perceptions of favoritism. Needless to say, you don’t want to give your friends—who are now your employees—the impression of any special treatment.  While at work, always keep it professional.


Team dynamics

Here are some tips from Etta:

  1. Do not reprimand your team in front of your boss, it will make them look bad and lose the respect of your authority.
  2. Watch your body language. Don’t make eye rolls when you’re unhappy with someone!
  3. What if I make mistakes as this is common for new managers? The important part is what can I learn from this? Don’t bury your mistakes and don’t blame someone else for your mistakes. You need to own it and come up with a plan to improve the situation.
  4. Encouraging questions will help you to understand what the underlying issues are so you can come up with a solution or work-around.
  5. It is important to set aside time to manage your budget and hiring. Sometimes it is tempting to hire someone quickly when you are short on staff and your team is working extra hours.
  6. Remember to hire the right people that compliment your strengths and weaknesses.  Making thoughtful decisions in terms of hiring talent will go a long way.
  7. Stress, what stress? Etta said that a lot of stress is self-induced and it is helpful to shift your mindset. Your Inner Critic is really watching out for your best interest not trying to undermine you. Learn how to interpret the signals from your Inner Critic.
  8. Say to yourself, I got this and quiet the noise. Visualize positive outcomes, and ask yourself – what is stressing me the most? Please stop trying to be perfect!
  9. You can’t fix your boss but you can change some of your approaches to him/her and take a different view.  Try to think of the boss as a teacher or a mentor. Keep listening and be open-minded to suggestions.
  10. Your boss hates surprises and hates being blindsided.

Here are some strategies to de-stress:

  1. Find what works for you such as a to-do list, exercise to de-stress, etc.
  2. Ask for help –  self-care is the “secret sauce” to be very effective at work.
  3. Find a safe space – a circle of peers who you feel comfortable talking to.
  4. Embrace risk and try something new.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up over trying to be perfect.
  6. Learn to see your mistakes as opportunities to be better.


Etta recommends reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck to get more in tune with your mind.

For more middle manager tips from Etta, visit her website at: https://www.powerinthemiddle.com/

Check out our blogs and visit our website for upcoming events and webinars.

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How to Make the Most out of your Mentorship: PART 2, Mentoring Resources

Last month we shared some tips to make the most out of your mentorship. If you missed it, read it here. This month, we’ve compiled a list of resources to help with the journey- whether you’ve joined our Women Accelerator’s mentoring group OR just want to strengthen a mentoring relationship you already have in place, these links will help!

In many cases, a mentor’s advice and the mentor/mentee relationship has an impact that lasts long after the official mentorship ends. To preface the resources, we asked the Women Accelerators leadership team to share some of the best advice they’ve ever received.

“I try not to sweat over little things that are not that important. The other thing is I stop myself when I start becoming a perfectionist because no one is.”

“If you aren’t LOVING your current role, look around for the resources available to you within the organization – ask the question if you aren’t sure you can take courses. Take as many classes or accept as many opportunities as you can. Learn as much as you possibly can. Continue to work hard in your current role but exploring resources and learning may make you more qualified for your next role or ignite an old passion for your current position. ”

“Sometimes you will just not be a fit – for an organization’s culture or a specific role. That is OK. If you don’t get the job, walk away from a job or lose a job, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. Keep your head up and remember some of the best things in life are found after someone failed. Press on and find a spot that clicks – you’ll be much happier.”

“You’re mad because you suck and you don’t want to suck. You’re used to being the best. But you need to understand you’re going to suck for awhile and that’s OK. [in context of starting a new role and the learning curve that comes with it].”

“I used to get burned out very often. One of the best advice I have gotten is to “not lose sight in the current and always remind yourself of what you want” because work requests can be endless and some of them don’t necessarily lead to anywhere career wise. It is important to remember what excites you the most and follow that.”

Can you think back to advice you’ve received from a mentor that still impacts your life today?

Mentoring can be an incredible opportunity with SO much gained but it can also be SO much work especially if you don’t know where to start or what to ask. Check out the resources below to help guide you as you navigate through a mentorship as a mentor or mentee:


  1. Demystifying Mentoring
  2. 40 Questions to Ask a Mentor
  3. 12 Powerful Questions to Ask a Mentor about Career Path
  4. What mentors with their Mentees knew
  5. Tips for Mentees
  6. TED: The Career Advice you probably didn’t get
  7. TED: Why we have too few women leaders


  1. Top 10 tips for mentors
  2. What the best mentors do 
  3. How to mentor someone who doesn’t know what their goals should be 
  4. A quick exercise to explore different life paths
  5. Good Mentors help you work through strong emotions
  6. Demystifying Mentoring

Want to learn more about our annual mentoring program? Find out more here.


Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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Do you self-promote enough?

Remember we recently had a webinar with Melody Wilding on imposter-syndrome (See our blog post Tackle self-doubt: How to overcome imposter syndrome for more)? In the webinar, we learned that feeling like you’re not good enough or you don’t have anything important to say is a common psychological pattern amongst women.

But let’s be reminded: no one should feel that way.

And so our message continues. On Thursday, we had the pleasure to welcome Kim Meninger (pronounced Me-nin-jer!) to speak on Using Self-Promotion Strategies to Raise Your Visibility, Increase Your Influence and Advance Your Career. This interactive workshop encouraged fellow career-driven women to share their stories with each other and to take a step forward using self-promotion techniques and strategies.

Kim is a certified executive and leadership development coach empowering individuals and organizations to reach their full leadership potential (bio here). There is something about her that instantly invites you to open up. Perhaps it’s the business casual (vs the full-on corporate) attire styled-up with her warm smile. Welcome to the no-judgment zone. So tell me, she begins, “how many of you self-promote at work?” Still only 5 minutes into the workshop, the audience is shy and reserved. One hand goes up, and another slowly. Kim chuckles and nods: “Well, everyone at your office should know who you are and what you do. So promote yourself!”

Kim then asked the audience to turn to their fellow attendees (everyone is sitting at round tables) and ask each other, in what ways are you/am I self-promoting at work already? One person said “I sit in the front at meetings and try to ask questions”, another said, “I usually try to reach out to people from other departments to seek collaborations”. Few minutes into the group discussion, the room became gradually vibrant with audiences lending their ears and opening up to each other. “Let me ask again”, Kim said, “how many people are self-promoting at work?” This time, majority of the attendees raised their hands. Turns out, once the audience verbalized their experiences, they were able to recognize that they do self-promote. What does this tell us? Do we, women, need affirmation in order to feel comfortable or safe to self-promote?

Kim doesn’t miss a beat and poses to the group: Why is self-promotion difficult for women? One audience said she’s tired of the bad reaction she receives from male colleagues, another added, “you fear of negative labels by men so you’d rather not talk”. It’s as if self-promotion feels insincere to us and so you fear to act on it. Unfortunately, this tends to be the mindset that is taught to us women at a young age.

So let’s change that mindset!

Kim says “promoting yourself is actually a service to others because you’re letting them know what skills you have and how they can utilize you”. If you don’t feel comfortable self-promoting, remember to focus on your strengths, not the other way around which apparently we all tend to do.

With that in mind, Kim shared below key to success and strategies for self-promotion.

Keys to success:

  • Self-awareness – What is your strength?
  • Confidence – You must believe in yourself!
  • Courage – Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone
  • Authenticity – Be you!
  • Consistency – This isn’t an annual practice, do it consistently throughout the year!

Key Strategies:

  1. Get a weekly facetime with your boss. If not, proactively send her/him weekly updates, highlighting your accomplishments of the week.
  2. Identify and own your expertise.
  3. Speak up at meetings.
  4. Offer to help/teach others.
  5. Build strategic relationships.
  6. Volunteer for cross-functional projects.
  7. Take advantage of casual opportunities.

At the end of the workshop, Kim asked the audience to turn to their tables one last time and share what the takeaway from the workshop was. Many said, “I feel more confident”, one said, “you might think you’re under the radar but you never really are, you just think that”.

A common theme in this workshop seemed like the majority of the audience felt hesitant to self-promote in fear of negative perception in the workplace. But after the 2-hour workshop of verbalizing one’s strength and sharing stories, the audience appeared ever so vibrant and confident.

So perhaps it’s not that we don’t know how to self-promote but simply need to remind ourselves why we should.

After all, we’re all rockstars and must never shy away from that spotlight because we deserve it.

Do you want more? Here are some resources and follow-up notes from the event!

Using Self-Promotion to Advance Your Career Slides 
Using Self-Promotion to Advance Your Career Post- Event Worksheet

Our next event is on March 7th, Thursday with Elaine Blais on 3 Secrets to a Kickass Life. We look forward to seeing you there!

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How to make the most out of your Mentorship

First things first, what is a mentor and what does mentorship mean?

You’ve probably heard the word mentor AT LEAST 25 times in your professional life – if not more, but it’s possible the reference could have been made in a variety of contexts. For all intents and purposes, how I will refer to it in this blog is as “an experienced and trusted advisor” – straight from Merriam-Webster.

It is important to understand that a mentor is someone that provides professional guidance and advise to help a mentee evaluate their professional landscape and grow in that realm –  even if they are a professional within a certain field, a mentor is not providing a mentee services to that end (ie. lawyer, doctor etc..). The mentorship is the period of time the mentor provides the mentee career and professional advice. The time period can vary from a very short period (a day to a few weeks or months) to years, depending on the relationship formed. The connection could be made through an informal or work connection or a more formal program, like our annual mentoring program (learn more here: https://womenaccelerators.org/mentoring-program/).

A mentorship can have a huge impact on your professional life IF you take advantage of what it can provide. In nearly all cases, a mentor is senior to a mentee and has a wealth of knowledge AND consequently, a strong network in a certain industry or realm. Most importantly, a mentorship is a relationship based on trust and respect. A mentor is someone, with experience, that you can discuss insights and issues. A space to discuss, without judgment, can help you sort through issues with a new perspective which can help you overcome those issues – reaching career heights you may not have thought possible before.

So you have a mentor, now what?

Take time for introspection

Take time to think about your ‘WHY’. The better you know yourself and your goals, the better you can navigate through the benefits of mentorship.

Think of this as a journey, if you don’t know the destination – how can you make it there?

To start, consider the following questions:

  1. Can you summarize your current professional experience? Make a list of highlights.
  2. What are your short and long term professional goals?
    1. If you don’t know – check out this HBR article for extra considerations: https://hbr.org/2018/07/how-to-mentor-someone-who-doesnt-know-what-their-career-goals-should-be
    2. Still struggling? Look at the career histories of people you admire or want to emulate, see if you can find anything that aligns with your passions and goals to use as a taking off point.
  3. Is there an aspect of business/professional life that particularly intrigues you or you want assistance navigating?
  4. Can you make a list of what you hope to achieve from a mentorship? (ie. are you looking for ideas to obtain skills, reach a new level, learn leadership tactics, increase your network etc…).
  5. Consider what your personality type is, are you an extrovert, introvert or analytical in nature?  And what kind of work environment or management style meshes best with your personality?
  6. Try taking personality tests such as Myers Briggs, Insights Discovery,or a DiSC personality assessment tool, etc. for additional insight.
  7. Think of anything else you may want to learn or know – professionally and personally.

Make a plan

As the mentee, unless your program dictates otherwise, you are responsible for driving the program.

  • Think of a few major topics you want to focus on throughout the mentorship and touch on them your first meeting.
  • Plan to bring your mentor up to speed as much as possible about your personality type and communications preferences.
  • Keep a list of things you are interested in discussion for quick reference.
  • Consider the timeline of the program and how many interactions or touchpoints are specified. If there is not a concrete schedule, draft one and have a discussion with your mentor to see if it works for them.
  • Pre-plan meetings! Have questions and topics ready before you meet with your mentor. Send them a note or email in advance with those topics to help facilitate conversation.
  • Write a summary of your discussions or key points, and plan for action items for the next meeting.

Take Action

Mentorships are WORK.

They take coordination and investment of both time and emotional capital from both parties. As the mentee, it is important to set the schedule in advance. Plan the meetings, follow up and facilitate the discussion. No one understands what you are seeking out of the mentorship better than you. Use the time wisely and act on the above guidance to make the most out of your mentorship!

We’re excited to see you grow and reach new heights – Be sure to stay tuned for more mentoring resources coming soon!

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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3 ways to spot a glass ceiling BEFORE you take the job

According to a recent joint study from McKinsey and Lean In, progress towards gender equality in the workplace has not just slowed down but stalled completely. “Only about 1 in 5 C-suite leaders is a woman, and only 1 in 25 is a woman of color.” Contradictory to the typical arguments, women are earning comparable education and experience, asking for promotions and also staying in the workforce at similar rates to men.

So why is there still such a large disparity?

According to the study, the management of talent pipelines might be to blame. From day one in an organization, cultural aspects will impact how minorities and women are seen. But also how they are interacted with (potential discrimination), grow (access to senior leaders and/or mentorship/sponsorship), and feel included (are you the “only” woman in the room?). Many companies talk the talk but do not walk the walk. In other words, we need leaders to show and consistently act on promises to create a more diverse workforce. Check out the article and link to the complete study here: https://mck.co/2ORF0Ob

For women and minorities seeking career growth, lets even say – at the speed of their peers, it is important to be cognizant of the organization’s culture and how it impacts our personal experiences and opportunities. While some organizations do not have a culture conducive to growing and nourishing female leadership and inclusion, there is a lot that DO. The trick is deciphering between the two. To do so, you need to pay close attention to the culture and the pipeline that shapes employee growth.

It is important to remember that a job interview is more than just an evaluation of your skills and credentials, it is a chance for YOU to interview the company.



Here are 3 tips to spot a glass ceiling before signing the offer letter to join ranks within an organization:

1. Take time for introspection

Clearly define your expectations and needs within an organization.

What is most important to you in order to thrive? Opportunity, networking potential, and sponsorship/mentorship are common needs for anyone in an organization but what does that look like for an inclusive workplace? Some organizations are lacking resources for minority and female employees so it is important to decide what you desire and need. Do you want pre-existing organizations set up or is it enough to have diverse backgrounds in the organization? Some may argue lean in circles are important for female inclusion. Is work flexibility important? Many organizations create more flexible work environments to help increase the retention of female high performers but that might not be a breaking point in your job search. How does the organization recognize and give feedback to their employees? For some, and in larger organizations, if feedback or ratings are not explicit, the role and progression can be difficult to navigate or question.

The bottom line to remember is that all women have different “ideal” work environments. Understanding what an ideal environment looks like to you will help you start the search, figure out what questions to ask and refine what companies to apply to.

2. Do your homework

    1. Dig deep into the organization’s public website. What information is available on the culture, mission, and vision? How large is the organization? Is anything listed about diversity and inclusion? If so, what does it tell you about the organization (statistics, business plan, action plan etc..)? Many organizations also have leadership profiles listed on their website, what does that tell you about the organization? If they do not have any diversity on the leadership team, that might be a red flag.
    2. Look at job review sites. Like any mass anonymous review site (see yelp), it’s important to take these with a grain of salt. However, reading multiple reviews may at least help you develop a list of potential topics to probe. An issue mentioned across multiple reviews may be indicative of a cultural trend within a company, especially if respondents are from multiple departments or locations. Some good large scale review sites to check out are: indeed, glassdoor, career bliss. Another site for women by women: fairygodboss.
    3. Reach out. This takes time. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool to find jobs and also to make connections. Before you even apply to a role, spend time finding a few current employees on LinkedIn. Reach out with a message and ask if they have a few minutes to speak to you about their job or organization- also known as an informational interview. While most people want to help, you likely won’t get a response to every message you send. Don’t get discouraged! If you aren’t getting any responses, adjust the message. It helps to be specific in your inquiry. Ask for what you want to learn about up front to shape the conversation but always remember this person may be a future co-worker. Tip: Find someone you have something in common with and you may get a better response rate. If you are able to speak with someone, ask them about their personal experiences. This genuine human connection will most likely provide more detailed insight than you can find online from any public site or anonymous review.

3. Ask the hard questions

*Certainly focus initially on questions about the role but don’t forget the important cultural and environmental questions! The formal interview is an opportunity for you to interview the employer too. Take note of how you are treated, how the office environment is set up, how employees interact and the body language between people.

  1. What is the culture like here?
  2. How is feedback provided or how is success rated?
  3. What are the daily expectations for a time in and out of office? Any flexibility of schedule? (be careful of when and who you ask this question but do include if important to you)
  4. Consider the environment of the office & ask to take a tour – are you comfortable with the surroundings/interactions?
  5. What is the leadership team like?
  6. How is inclusion encouraged within this organization?
  7. Do you have any mentorship programs? Or networking groups?
  8. Why is this position open?
  9. What makes you stay at this organization

Although most modern day companies speak to the value they put on diversity and inclusion, it isn’t always as transparent as we might hope. Learning to listen carefully and being brave enough to ask the tough questions can help female candidates identify gender inclusive employers.

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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Tackle self-doubt: How to overcome imposter syndrome

On October 24th, Women Accelerators was thrilled to welcome Melody Wilding for a webcast on “Imposter Syndrome.”

Melody Wilding is a performance coach and licensed social worker. She helps high-achievers master the mental and emotional aspects of striving for a successful career and a balanced life. Her clients are managers and leaders at places like Google, Facebook, and HP. She helps them gain more confidence, assertiveness, and influence. That allows them to reach goals like being promoted twice in one year and doubling their salary. Melody also teaches Human Behavior at Hunter College in NYC.

She helped us learn more about imposter syndrome, something we’ve all heard about and most have experienced, if not, on a daily basis. More importantly, Melody taught us a few ways to combat imposter syndrome and thrive!

So what is imposter syndrome?!

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? That you are not good enough or smart enough to be filling a role you hold? Imposter syndrome can also be thought of as imposter phenomenon. The feeling that you are a fraud and that you do not deserve whatever accomplishment, experience, role etc… is what imposter phenomenon refers to – and it IS real!


Imposter syndrome was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. They were doing research and noticed a pattern in successful women which they termed “intellectual phoniness.”  They coined the term “imposter syndrome” which described the feelings they observed presenting most commonly in high achieving women. Further defined as, the crippling feeling that you do not feel you are worthy of the success you get. The phenomenon is marked by the inability to internalize your achievements although there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. Since the initial study, though still most prevalent in high achieving women, research has shown that everyone can experience the phenomenon.

While it was discovered by a pair of psychologists, imposter syndrome is not a clinical disorder. It does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) but can be a contributing factor leading to anxiety and depression. Fundamentally imposter syndrome represents an “inaccurate self assessment.”  This may sound harmless but imposter syndrome can have detrimental effects on your daily life so it should not be ignored.

What does it look like in life?

Imposter syndrome can manifest itself in what may feel like anxiety or depression, which it is certainly related to, but in itself, imposter syndrome is more of a phenomenon or experience. It can be tied to a fairly predictable cycle (see image below).

Generally the feeling starts with a triggering event, this event could be a project or challenge generally related to work.  That then sets off a chain reaction of habitual thoughts and feelings.These thoughts and emotions influence behavior. The reaction usually falls within two camps: over preparation & procrastination – generally individuals fall into one category but could be a combination of both. Then at some point we experience something good, a “success” and get a feeling of relief. Along with the relief, we get positive feedback but we usually ignore or push back this feedback, contributing it to effort and discredit it or say it was luck — then the cycle goes around again. How do we stop it?

What are the effects of imposter syndrome?

Of course, this constant cycle leads to a lot of self doubt.

But it can lead to a lot of other detrimental effects too. Things to watch out for:

– Reluctance to ask for help at work

– Turning down/avoiding the search for new opportunities (because fear of failing)

– Perfectionism and procrastination tendencies/distractions

– Negative self talk

– Triggering anxiety and depression especially if there is a predisposition to the conditions

How do you manage imposter syndrome?

Up to 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career. We tend to glorify success and feel the doubt or feeling with go away the more successful or higher you become within an organization but it is actually the opposite. For a variety of reasons, women are much more vulnerable – 2/3 of women experience imposter syndrome!

With the realization that you are not alone, learning tools to manage imposter syndrome can help limit its effects on your life. We do not want those feelings to go away but we want to manage them so we can go forward. Address the thoughts when they first pop up in the cycle!


Negative self talk is a hallmark of imposter syndrome. Up to 85 percent of the thoughts we have every day are the same, this applies especially to the negative thoughts. Which means that the negative thoughts become automatic when faced with a stressful event – called cognitive distortions (unhelpful thinking patterns). Types of cognitive distortions are listed in the table below:

CatastrophisizingYou expect disasterWhat if I end up broke and in the street
All of nothing thinking Things are black and white, good or bad. I have to be perfect or I’m a failure
Overgeneralization If something bad happens once then you expect it to always happen I’m always screwing up
Mental FilterYou dwell on a  single negative detailYou obsess over the one “meets expectations” on your performance review.
Emotional ReasoningYou believe what you feel must automatically be true.I feel stupid, therefore I am.
Mind Reading Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and thinking She didn’t respond to my email so I know she hates me.
Personalization You hold yourself accountable for things that are beyond your controlThe project failed. I didn’t spend enough time on it.

How do you fight cognitive distortions?

For the long term, work to change thought patterns.

  1. Record your thoughts! What is your inner dialogue saying to you? What are your greatest hits?
  2. Name the pattern (ie. mind reading) – psychology shows that once we label something – it actually helps us create emotional distance and lower the power the thought has over us.
  3. Generate 1-3 facts to dispute the thought.

*Mood kit is a phone application that can help you do this real time!

For the short term,

  1. Accept don’t deflect – be cognizant of the phrases that you may be using “it was nothing” “I just threw this together” start practicing welcoming in praise and not pushing it away- when you get a compliment, keep it at a tweet length response OR even better – just say “thanks.”
  2. Create a brag file! It is a natural way to start to eliminate the bias we feel against ourselves. This provides a visible solution to start to have pride in your own accomplishments. Take stock in each day of what went well and what you’re proud of– make note of any outcomes/successes.
    *Bonus: A brag file is good to have when you are prepping for an interview or updating your resume.
  3. Go on the offense. It is helpful to practice more/exposure technique. Ie. if you are afraid of getting feedback asking for it more will actually help you build the tolerance to it more. When we proactively solicit feedback we find it more helpful. Confidence is a skill and like anything else it takes practice and failures will occur.
  4. Seek a mentor or sponsor. Imposter syndrome thrives in a setting where we are lacking role models- seeking mentorship and sponsorship in your workplace or joining events & groups can help tremendously.  Join Melody at melodywilding.com/community for a pre-established growing community for accountability, inspiration and a place to find advice as you grow in your career.

Want to learn more about Melody or sign up to work with her? Check out her site here: https://melodywilding.com/

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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