2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:50 AM

Community-Based Mentoring: A New Approach to Increase Retention

VALVO, Lisa M. and LOZIER, M. Susan, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University, Box 90227, Durham, NC 27708, lisa.valvo@duke.edu

While women have been graduating from physical oceanography programs in increasing numbers for the past two decades, the number of women occupying senior positions in the field remains relatively low. Thus, the disparity between the percentages of women at various career stages seems to be related to the retention of those completing graduate school in physical oceanography, not in recruiting women to the field. Studies indicate that a positive mentoring experience is strongly correlated with success in science, and as such, a new initiative provides this essential mentoring to physical oceanographers from late graduate school through their early careers. MPOWIR (Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention) is a community-based program comprised of online and face-to-face mentoring opportunities. The MPOWIR website (www.mpowir.org) includes resources as well as online forums where junior and senior scientists interact. In addition, statistics from institutions and survey responses from individual graduate students provide quantitative and qualitative measures to determine the program's effectiveness at attaining its goals and objectives. In May 2008, we held the first Pattullo conference to bring mentors and mentees together. The 41 participants at this conference shared their research, attended professional development sessions, and openly discussed issues related to the retention of young scientists in the field.