Paper No. 68-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
EXPLORING DELIBERATE MENTORING APPROACHES AIMED AT IMPROVING THE RECRUITMENT AND PERSISTENCE OF UNDERGRADUATE WOMEN IN THE GEOSCIENCES
In the United States, men outnumber women in many science and engineering fields by nearly 3 to 1. In fields like physics or the geosciences, the gender gap can be even wider. Previous studies have identified the early college years as a critical point where many women exit STEM. An interdisciplinary team including expertise in the geosciences, psychology, education and STEM persistence have recently begun a 5-year project focused on understanding whether mentoring can increase the interest, persistence, and achievement of undergraduate women in the geosciences. The program focuses on mentoring first and second year female undergraduate students from four universities in Colorado and Wyoming and three universities in North and South Carolina. The mentoring program includes a weekend workshop, access to professional women across geoscience fields, and both in-person and virtual peer networks. The first weekend workshops were held in October 2015. The web-platform, designed to enable peer-mentoring and provide resources, was also launched in fall 2015: geosciencewomen.org. We will present an overview of the major components and lessons learned from the workshops. Using feedback from online surveys, we aim to 1) quantify the impact of the interventions (i.e. workshops and the professional and peer mentoring) on participants’ intentions and behaviors related to geoscience career choices, 2) quantify the impact of the interventions on the skills and resources participants can use to overcome barriers for a career in the geosciences, and 3) quantify the key features of the interventions that predict positive changes in participants’ perceptions of and beliefs about the geosciences. We will examine key processes that may explain why intervention elements have their effect on geoscience career choices. This project directly addresses diversity issues in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The activities aim to increase the number and diversity of women pursuing and completing an education in the geosciences. The project provides a program model and website for others to use, enhancing the potential for scalability.