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Peer Mentoring for Women in STEM

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Sinéad C Mac Namara Syracuse University

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Sinéad Mac Namara is a structural engineer and Associate Professor teaching in both the School of Architecture and the College of Engineering of Syracuse University. She studied civil and structural engineering at Trinity College Dublin and Princeton University. Her research is concerned with structural art, shell structural design, alternate pedagogies for interdisciplinary education, and investigations to foster creativity and innovation in engineering curricula. Mac Namara co-authored a book Collaboration in Architecture and Engineering released in 2014 and her research has been published in engineering and architecture education journals, nationally and internationally. She has received awards for innovative teaching from Princeton University, Syracuse University, and the American Society for Engineering Education. She also engages in design and design-build projects as a collaborator with her architecture students and colleagues. This work has been recognized with awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the Architectural Institute of America and the City of New York.

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Anne E Rauh Syracuse University Orcid 16x16

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Anne E. Rauh is the Head of Collections and Research Services at Syracuse University Libraries. She leads the collection activities, the subject liaison work, and the university aligned research initiatives of the Libraries. She holds a B.A. in International Studies and a M.A. in Library and Information Studies, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Anne is an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the Eastern New York Chapter of Association of College and Research Libraries. She has presented and published extensively on science and engineering librarianship and university research reputation. Her research interests include collection development, scholarly impact, research services, and publishing and scholarly communication.

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Michelle M Blum Syracuse University

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Dr. Blum is interested in research in improving undergraduate engineering education; including development of inquiry based activities for first year engineering courses, improvement of student design projects, hands-on activities, professional skills development and inclusion and outreach activities. Dr. Blum also specializes in high performance materials development and characterization for tribological (friction and wear), structural, and biomedical applications.

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Natalie Russo Syracuse University

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Melissa A Green Syracuse University

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Shikha Nangia Syracuse University

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In 2013 a group of female junior faculty and professional staff affiliated with STEM fields at Syracuse University attended an honorary lecture by Mimi Koehl, UC Berkeley, which covered both academic topics and a description of a peer mentoring group which she had been part of for many years. The attendees were inspired to convene a peer mentoring group as Koehl described and as outlined in the book Every Other Thursday by Ellen Daniell.

The group has a stable membership of ten women in the fields of aerospace engineering, architecture, biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, library science, mechanical engineering, physics, and psychology. At the outset, the group’s members were assistant professors on tenure track, assistant teaching professors, and assistant librarians. The group now consists of tenured associate professors, librarians, and two of the University’s first teaching professors that have been promoted to the associate level.

This paper will explore best practices for forming and maintaining similar peer mentor groups. Topics covered will include group composition, meeting structure, process for new membership, and group expectations. Themes that the group has grappled with include teaching strategies at various scales in STEM, mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, cultivating healthy relationships with colleagues and collaborators, navigating university politics as women in STEM, optimizing service commitments, achieving work-life balance, and developing and executing institution- and position-specific strategies for career advancement. The paper will reflect on the outcomes and the role of the group as a critical strategy to foster a supportive work environment.

Mac Namara, S. C., & Rauh, A. E., & Blum, M. M., & Russo, N., & Green, M. A., & Nangia, S. (2020, June), Peer Mentoring for Women in STEM Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35043

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