The conversation around the role of women in technology (WIT) remains a critical one. Research shows that despite 80 percent of women with careers in science, engineering, and technology reporting their love for their work, over half leave their organizations mid-career. In the tech industry, the rate at which women quit is more than double that of men.

These numbers show that despite advances in STEM recruitment and education for women, as well as clear indicators that diversity is good for business, there remains a long way to go before the industry achieves a true culture of inclusion and diversity.

Building community through mentorship

For women to thrive in an industry like technology, it’s vital to create a community of advocates, supporters, and mentors. At Microsoft Inspire in Washington DC, attendees from across the globe gathered at the annual WIT luncheon to do just that. From the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) WIT mentorship circle team, Gail Mercer-MacKay says that she sees an increasing number of women stepping into leadership roles in the technology industry.

“WIT organizations and events at Microsoft have attracted women who might have initially thought they were in isolation, but suddenly we are finding each other. [These] events have started dialogues and once the dialogues begin, you have women showing up and connecting. And when we connect, we empower.”

—Gail Mercer-MacKay, President of Mercer MacKay Solutions

This growth doesn’t come without community investment, particularly when it comes to mentorship. As Shann McGrail, member of the IAMCP WIT mentorship circle team, explains, mentorship success demands commitment and initiative. If you are looking for a mentor, don’t expect them to come to you. The responsibility is on you to determine how a mentor would benefit your career, what type of mentoring you need, and how to find the right person to help achieve your goals.

“Mentoring starts with good self-reflection. I usually recommend to people to spend some time thinking about what they want to get out of a mentoring relationship and defining goals.”

—Shann McGrail, Cofounder of Devreve

Even if you are not completely clear on what your mentorship goals are, an excellent way to connect and learn from a variety of professional women is to join a program like the IAMCP WIT mentoring circles. Within the group, responsibilities are shared across several individual mentors, and mentees can explore different topics to pursue further with one-on-one mentorship.

How to find your people

“We count over 120 active WIT ladies in Germany at the moment and we are thrilled to be offered to plan and organize this year’s Microsoft WIT lunch at the German partner conference….I am so very proud to be part of this agile community of wonderful women around the world—these are amazing times with great opportunities!”

— Alexandra Hanke, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Sycor GmbH

If you are interested in joining a mentoring circle, or want to start one yourself, you can learn more about the program by emailing Shann McGrail at shannm@devreve.com. To learn more about the IACMP WIT program, visit the website here. The goals of the program are to connect the creative and innovative women throughout the Microsoft partner ecosystem to build a global community, increase opportunities, and empower women across the world.

Mentorship circles focus on topics that support development and retention in IT. Their group format allows participants to dive deep into a wide variety of topics with mentors, while encouraging peer discussions and learning opportunities. Topics include advancing careers, building strengths, promoting abilities, growing leadership skills, managing people, changing industries, building self-confidence, and more.

Be sure to join us in Las Vegas at Microsoft Inspire next July to find new mentors, build your community, share your experiences, and learn more about Microsoft WIT.

How do you see mentorship help shape a more diverse and inclusive business environment? Share your thoughts with the Microsoft Partner Community here.