Mayor announces initiatives for women in small business, STEM fields

women's employment initiativeMayor Sly James says Kansas City needs to make an extra effort to include women and girls in the tech boom. He said today his Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative will add two new programs to support women-owned small businesses and careers of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

At the WE 2.0 mini-conference at Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, James pledged to contribute $10,000 from his office’s budget to the Women’s Business Center’s WE-Lend Microloan Program.

James also said his office and WE would support the national Million Women Mentors initiative, which aims to find mentors for girls and young women interested in STEM careers.

“If Kansas City is truly going to be the tech-hub of the Midwest, we have to continue developing the next generation of tech leaders, and that has to include women and girls,” James said.

Here’s more from the mayor’s office:

James noted that the WE Initiative was marking its first anniversary in March, and that every strategy of the WE blueprint had either been completed or is currently in progress. WE and its blueprint were established through a collaboration among the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, Women’s Foundation and the UMKC Women’s Center.

“Making Kansas City and its government work for women is not a project that just ends,” James said. “We can always do more to ensure that everyone has an equal seat at the table.”

Funds from the Mayor’s Office budget pledged to the Women’s Business Center will support women-owned businesses in Kansas City, Missouri. Recipients of loans through its WE-Lend program may receive funding, structured technical assistance and access to a financial coach.

As the name suggests, Million Women Mentors is committed to finding 1 million mentors nationally for girls and young women interested in STEM fields by 2018. James noted that women working in STEM fields are far more likely to leave their jobs than women working in other professional fields.

“The good news is that mentorship is one of the best ways to close this gap,” James said. “That’s why we are signing on to this national initiative.”

The half-day mini-conference also included sessions on women-led businesses, women in STEM, workplace bullying and effective service on governing boards. A luncheon panel of corporate and organizational leaders discussed family-friendly workplace policies and work-life balance.


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