June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.994.1 - 12.994.8
Kansas State University’s Women Mentoring Women (WMW): Impacts of Shifting from Individual to Group Mentoring Abstract
Women Mentoring Women (WMW) at Kansas State University (K-State) began in 1999 with seed money from the Society of Women Engineers, and has expanded to support all 17 engineering and science programs affiliated with the Women in Engineering and Science Program. The program focuses on supporting freshmen women in engineering and science as they begin their university experience in demanding curricula. Freshmen women are matched with upper-class women who are in the same major. The mentors offer advice, answer questions, and provide support throughout the academic year. WMW structures monthly opportunities for all participants to network. Activities range from a ceramic event to attending a theatrical performance to a semi-formal dinner with the deans and administrators on campus.
Historically, this program was an individual (one-on-one) mentoring program. After attending a panel discussion on mentoring programs at the 2004 WEPAN conference, the program transitioned to a group mentoring structure in the fall of 2004, and the structural changes were modeled after the mentoring program at Penn State (Ruel, Bogue, Reyes, & Hart, 2004). The program has tripled in size since 2002 and currently has over 160 women participating. The average participating rate of members for monthly events roughly doubled after the transition to a group mentoring structure. Finally, the retention rate of freshmen participating in the program after their third semester is just over 80%, well above retention rates for the college. This paper will detail the changes that were made to the organizational structure of WMW, will report impact these changes had on participation levels, and will describe best practices and lessons learned.
WMW’s Organizational Structure
Women Mentoring Women at Kansas State University was originally designed to be a one-on-one mentoring program linking freshmen students with an upper division student preferably but not always in their major. The organization provided a mechanism for building community and providing support for incoming freshmen. However, over the course of the academic year, participation levels at events decreased as the year progressed. After an individual missed an event, they were less likely to attend later events.
Whether a mentoring relationship works or not in essence boils down to the ability for two individuals to “click”. If that bond or connection is made, the mentoring relationship works, and if the connection is not made, a relationship may exist but true mentoring does not exist. In a one-on-one mentoring structure, the mentee only has the opportunity to connect with the mentor. This issue was a primary reason for transitioning to a group mentoring structure. (Ruel, et al., 2004) With a group structure, 2-3 mentors are matched with 3-5 mentees all from the same department. This provides each mentee with the opportunity to “click” with more than one mentor, increasing the opportunity for a
Douglas, K. (2007, June), K State's Women Mentoring Women (Wmw): Impacts Of Shifting From Individual To Group Mentoring Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2703
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