June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Women in Engineering
23.546.1 - 23.546.15
Establishing a Women’s Mentorship Network in a STEM Learning CommunityThe goal of the living-learning community (LLC) under review is to increase the number of U.S.citizens and, where possible, increase the number of underrepresented students obtaining a B.S.degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM). To achieve this goal, theLLC faculty and staff have designed a learning community around a carefully thought out set ofeducational activities. Because the first two years in college have been found to be the mostcritical for a student’s success in a STEM discipline, the LLC activities are focused on this timeframe. Though successful in the goal of retention to graduation for both men and women, theparticipating women were being retained at a lower rate than their male counterparts. To addressthe issue, the LLC, in conjunction with industry partners, created a two-phased approach tomentoring young women in the STEM disciplines.There is extensive evidence in the literature that student mentorship works in improving studentlearning (Girves, et al., 2005). Despite the absence of a comprehensive theory of whatmentorship is, there are four major domains or latent variables comprising the mentoringconcept, as identified by Nora and Crisp (2007). The four latent constructs include: (1)psychological and emotional support, (2) support for setting goals and choosing a career path,(3) academic subject knowledge support aimed at advancing a student’s knowledge relevant totheir chosen field, and (4) specification of a role model. Each participant in the women’smentorship network receives a number of mentors at various stages of their college experienceincluding two structured mentoring opportunities which occur in the freshman and sophomoreyears. Haring (1997, 1999) refers to this type of mentoring model as a networking mentorshipmodel, and considers it as more inclusive and egalitarian.The initiatives, co-sponsored by industry partners, provide for peer mentors in the freshman yearand industry mentors in the sophomore year. A key characteristic of a strong mentoringrelationship is similarity (including gender/ethnicity) particularly for groups typicallyunderrepresented in STEM. In each phase of the two year mentoring network, students areindividually matched with their mentors based on like characteristics (i.e., gender, math ability,discipline, career interests). After only one year, positive results are being shown in the decreaseof the difference between male and female first-year retention in the STEM disciplines. Thispaper will aid practitioners in the steps to establishing and assessing a mentorship network,provide details of the mentoring components, and show how the LLC has partnered with industryfor the success of the students in the program.Girves, J.E., Zepeda, Y., & Gwathmey, J.K. (2005). Mentoring in post-affirmative action world. Journal of Social Issues, 61(3), 449-479.Haring, M. J. (1997). Networking mentoring as a preferred model for guiding programs for underrepresented students. In H. T. Frierson, Jr. (Ed.), Diversity in higher education: Vol. 1. Mentoring and diversity in higher education (pp. 63–76). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Haring, M. J. (1999). “The case for a conceptual base for minority mentoring programs.” Peabody Journal of Education, 74(2), 5–14. In “How to mentor graduate students, A guide for faculty.” Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, 2009.Nora, A., & Crisp, G. (2007). “Mentoring students: Conceptualizing and validating the multi- dimensions of a support system.” Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice, 9(3), 337–356.
Dagley, M. A., & Ramlakhan, N., & Young, C. Y., & Georgiopoulos, M. (2013, June), Establishing a Women’s Mentorship Network in a STEM Learning Community Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19560
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