The Power of External Mentors for Women Pursuing Academic Careers in Engineering and Science: Stories of MentorNet ACE and Its Protégés and Mentors

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Conference Proceeding

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"Finding my way through the completion of my doctorate and the start of my faculty career was challenging, but it was made more successful and more pleasant by the consistent mentorship I received."

"“My relationship with my mentor … has helped me with career altering decisions from a female perspective that I did not feel I could discuss with my male advisor and teachers."

"Why did I volunteer to be a mentor? … How to be successful as a PhD student and in the faculty job search shouldn't be a secret, but there is so little information on how to be successful, and having a book to read isn't the same as being able to ask questions of someone supportive and neutral willing to help guide you. What do I get from it on a day to day basis? I get to rethink how I do things, and what I would do."

While mentoring is frequently cited as a highly critical element of success for women in engineering and science, structured mentoring involving external mentors for those pursuing academic careers in these fields is relatively new. This paper considers the benefits of building cross-institutional mentoring networks to advance academic career progress for women in science and engineering.

The MentorNet Academic Career E-mentoring (ACE) program, matching graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and early career faculty members in engineering and science fields pursuing academic careers with tenured faculty members external to their home institutions for structured e-mentoring relationships, involved 480 pairs of mentors and protégés during its first three years.

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