Julie Kantor '91 Focuses on STEM

June 02, 2015

Julie Kantor

Julie is the Chief Partnership Officer of STEMConnector and Million Women Mentors. She recently spoke at the Women in Technology Summit in California!

What was your major at Simmons and what is your current job title?

​I was a double major in communications and English. I took every creative writing and journalism class -- plus Comm Media -- I could get my hands on. I am Chief Partnership Officer of STEMconnector and Million Women Mentors​.

What's a typical day like at your job?

​Right now we are building a massive movement for the country called Million Women Mentors to get a million women and men mentoring girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. It's very entrepreneurial and I don't think I have a typical day. We work with 60 partners who reach over 30 million girls and women, consult hundreds of corporations on strategy and have teams formulating in 30 states. I will say my job is never boring (wink). Women are 50% of the U.S. workforce, but only 24% of the STEM workforce and have a 50% drop out rate. These jobs pay women more and we want to elevate more women in their careers. 

What's your favorite part of your work?

Applying an entrepreneurial mindset to societal problems and building solutions with an awesome extended team. I have also been really enjoying working on a new-webportal with my colleague Dr. Dane Boyington and Tata Consultancy Services to match professional STEM mentors with groups in need of mentors. ​

What made you start working in the technology field?

I've always loved technology and I've always loved to tinker. When I was at Simmons -- and I am dating myself -- I got a job at Charette just so I could play with color printers when they first came out. Today I am playing with a MakerBot 3D printer that one of our clients sent to us. ​

What advice do you have for women trying to break into the technology field?

I have been writing a lot about this topic. I want to reflect on one tougher article I felt needed to be written from all I've learned, called STEMinism.

My advice is to use technology to change the world. Don't be intimidated. Tinker. Definitely do a really hands-on internship to hone your skills and get a few awesome mentors who have what you want.​ ​Understand gender bias and have a plan to navigate some tough waters. Pick your company based on admiration for the work AND the culture.

What woman do you most admire? What has she taught you?

​My goodness, there are so many women I admire. Our CEO Edie Fraser taught me to dream bigger than most people dream and then be relentless in execution. I have never worked so hard or so proudly. She is an iconic entrepreneur and human being. ​

What's the best career advice you've gotten along the way?​ 

On my 45th birthday I did a deep dive reflection on the biggest lessons I've learned. Some were professional and some were personal.
  1. Be an entrepreneur in every facet of life. Dream, execute, take calculated risks. Your life is yours to build and entrepreneurs have more fun.
  2. Approach work with an entrepreneurial mindset. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, create and build something of value that will also bring in strong revenues. If you fail, you fail. We all do. Begin again, and try not to make the same mistake twice. Mentor and teach others that they can fall and then get back up in life.​

What social media accounts do you follow?

I use Slideshare, Linkedin, Twitter, Some Google+​ ​and I like FastCompany and VentureBeat. 

I'm carefully following Laszlo Bock, Chief People Officer of Google and Sylvia Ann Hewlett from the Center for Talent Innovation.

What did your talk at the Women in Technology Summit focus around?

My talk focused around optimizing STEM talent through mentoring and sponsorship. I'm super excited about women serving as both mentors and sponsors in life ​-- and learning the difference between the two. We can really move the needle on more women on corporate boards, in the C-Suite and in great internships if we sponsor more. According to economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, men are 46% more likely to have a high powered sponsor.

What's your Simmons moment?

I remember Donald Woods speaking at Simmons about his moving film Cry Freedom -- and writing all night about what I learned for the school newspaper. Simmons taught me that I could get very passionate about a topic and then take action as a leader and find channels of communication. I am so grateful for my experience at Simmons and that I never had to stop and question my gender in the context of being a leader. ​My life became one of social entrepreneurship and making things happen. Simmons was just the place to foster creativity and self-confidence.