Asee peer logo

A "Grass Roots" Mentoring Model To Create Change

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Women in Engineering: Faculty/Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.7.1 - 9.7.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Jan Rinehart

author page

Robin Autenrieth

author page

Karen Butler-Purry

author page

Angie Hill Price

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

ASEE Abstract 2004 Conference

A "Grass Roots" Mentoring Model to Create Change Robin Autenrieth, Karen Butler-Purry, Angie Hill Price, and Jan Rinehart Texas A&M University

Abstract For more than fifteen years the women faculty in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University have built a community through social activities, seminars, and outreach programs that have served well as a mentoring mechanism between junior and senior faculty and peers. What started as social activities during lunch or after work has evolved into the formation of the Women Engineering Faculty Interest Group (WEFIG), a university recognized organization that serves in an advisory capacity to the Dean of the College. WEFIG also has a formal relationship with the Women’s Faculty Network (WFN), a university-wide women’s group that sponsors events in support of women faculty across the campus. This grassroots approach to a mentoring group was initiated by one of the early women administrators in the college who would share insights on the administration of the college and university, thereby fostering a sense of inclusion in the community that might have otherwise seemed unwelcoming. This administrator’s staff would periodically organize gatherings where attendance was voluntary and meant to be a time to be with other professional women in a relaxed atmosphere. It was an effective way to introduce new engineering female faculty to female engineering faculty working in separate buildings, programs, departments, many of whom one might not ever encounter otherwise.

With a recent change in administration at both the university and college levels and new priorities being set, WEFIG has become more formalized in structure. As diversification of the faculty has become increasingly important, WEFIG has been called upon by the Dean to assist in meeting this goal. As a first step, WEFIG has initiated, with support from the Dean’s office, an expanded version of the MIT self-study (MIT, 1999) to include issues of gender and ethnicity in assessing the college climate for recruitment and retention of new faculty. This study is expected to expose weaknesses as well as strengths in meeting the diversification goals and providing the supportive environment necessary for faculty retention, particularly for women and minorities. In this paper a model will be presented that other faculty/administrators can implement to both mentor faculty and create change at their institutions.

Introduction From a handful to a roomful, the faculty women in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University are increasing in number and visibility. TAMU officially allowed women to attend the formerly male only college in the 1960s. The first woman joined the TAMU faculty also in the 1960s. In 1986 there were but four women in the College and today there are 2323 tenured or tenure-track women faculty. Although most of these women are tenure-track assistant professors, several have advanced to become full- professors and a few advance into administrative positions. Being such a minority has its

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Rinehart, J., & Autenrieth, R., & Butler-Purry, K., & Hill Price, A. (2004, June), A "Grass Roots" Mentoring Model To Create Change Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13393

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015