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Benefits For Women Students From Industrial E Mentoring

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.235.1 - 6.235.8



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Paper Authors

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Peg Boyle Single

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Carol Muller

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Session 3592

Benefits for Women Students from Industrial E-Mentoring Carol B. Muller, Peg Boyle Single MentorNet


Mentoring has been hailed as a strategy to improve retention of women students in engineering and related sciences. Electronic communications now can support a cost-effective opportunity for mentoring which transcends previous constraints to mentoring programs – time, synchronous communication, and geography.

MentorNet pairs undergraduate and graduate women studying engineering and related sciences with volunteers in industry for year-long, structured mentoring relationships conducted via e- mail. This large-scale, multi-campus program offers on-line applications, matching, training, and on-going coaching for participants, and evaluation. Increasing student participation from just over 200 to 2,000 over 3-1/2 years leads to a rich database for evaluation. These 2,000 students attend 71 different institutions of higher education, including community colleges.

MentorNet is unique among large-scale e-mentoring programs in conducting extensive evaluation to determine retention, long-term benefits to the participants, and outcomes associated with the e-mentoring process. This paper will describe the program and its evaluation findings, with a particular focus on the results of a survey of student participants one year after they completed their participation in MentorNet. Of respondents to the survey, 95% persisted in their fields, either as they continued in their studies or moved into the labor market. A large percentage of students (81%) had an internship while they were in school; some students reported that MentorNet participation helped them get their internship. In addition, 43% reported participation in MentorNet boosted their confidence. This is a significant finding as the decrease in confidence and lower confidence of women versus men students have been identified as contributing factors to the underrepresentation of women in the engineering, science, and math fields.


To address the longstanding problem of under-representation of women in engineering and related sciences, mentoring has been touted as a particularly effective component of any strategies to encourage women’s persistence in these fields. Mentoring programs in wide variety have been instituted at colleges across the country, and materials, training programs, and papers have been developed to help support these efforts.1,2,3,9,15 The working assumption is that students benefit from having those with greater experience help acquaint them with the opportunities in these fields, offer guidance and advice based on experience, and provide support, encouragement, and access to professional networks for further career development. Effective mentoring offers personal, one-on-one attention, and may also provide insight about

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Single, P. B., & Muller, C. (2001, June), Benefits For Women Students From Industrial E Mentoring Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8952

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