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Improving the Recruitment and Persistence of Women in the Geosciences: Exploring Deliberate Mentoring Approaches Aimed at Undergraduate Students

Women continue to be largely under-represented in the geosciences. Female role models and mentors can play an important role in the lives of female students, especially when choosing and committing to a career path. This project is providing a pathway for STEM undergraduate women into the geosciences through a combination of formal and informal, professional and peer mentoring. The research is also providing insight into why mentoring is beneficial to STEM women. This project recruits first-year college women interested in the geosciences (from any STEM major) from institutions in two geographic regions: the Front Range of Colorado and the Carolinas. During their first year, these women are invited to a regional mentoring workshop to i) learn more about geoscience careers, ii) meet peers with similar academic interests, iii) gain better self-awareness of their values, strengths, and abilities for a career in the geosciences, and iv) expand their psychological, social and institutional resources for a career in the geosciences. After the workshop, the program participants have access to peer mentoring and resources through a web platform. Through this platform, they are able to interact with each other via discussion forums. In addition, they have access to in-person mentoring with female role models via scheduled get-togethers at each institution. The research is focused on quantifying i) the impact of the workshops and mentoring on participants’ intentions and behaviors related to geoscience career choices, ii) the impact of the workshops and mentoring on the skills and resources participants use to overcome career-related barriers, and iii) the key features of the workshops and mentoring strategies that predict positive changes in participants’ perceptions of and beliefs about the geosciences. The CSU STEM Center serves as the evaluators for this project.

Status: Current

PI Institution: Colorado State University

Source of Funding: NSF

Funding Program: IUSE

Award Amount: $1,559,332

Start Date: 10/01/2014

End Date: 09/30/2019

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