2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 272-7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


CALLAHAN, Caitlin N., Geology Department, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI 49401, LIBARKIN, Julie, Geocognition Research Laboratory, 206 Natural Science, East Lansing, MI 48824, MCCALLUM, Carmen, SUNY Buffalo State University, Buffalo, NY 14222 and ATCHISON, Christopher L., School of Education and Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, 511E Teachers College, P.O. Box 210002, Cincinnati, OH 45221, callahca@gvsu.edu

The Earth System Sciences (ESS) are enmeshed in a long-standing crisis of homogeneity. Despite decades of programmatic efforts to increase the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups (URG), the discipline still lacks diversity among its overall membership. Instead, success has been constrained to single institutions or particular regions. Among the strategies that have been successful at producing changes at the local level are mentoring programs, especially research experiences for undergraduate students. Such programs assume mentoring relationships are effective mechanisms not only for helping students to expand their scientific knowledge, but also for providing them with opportunities to gain a greater sense of belonging and career satisfaction in the ESS community. In this study, we explore the relationship between students’ trust in their mentors and career satisfaction within the ESS.

A total of 121 undergraduate students and 71 graduate students completed surveys at a research booth set up in a conference exhibit hall during an annual professional meeting held in 2014. Respondents were asked questions pertaining to trust in their academic mentor, their sense of belonging, and their career satisfaction within ESS as well as demographic questions. Statistical analyses of the data yield several significant findings: 1) members of URG consistently reported significantly lower levels of sense of belonging than their non-URG peers; 2) women reported significantly lower levels of career satisfaction than men; and 3) hierarchical linear regression yields a model in which 38.1% of the variance in career satisfaction can be explained by trust in mentor, sense of belonging and academic status. We argue that more attention is needed on the substance of mentoring relationships. We cannot assume that providing mentors to students is enough, but rather we must also provide training that helps mentors and students develop trusting relationships.