Friday, September 12, 2008

mentoring program participation

We have an organization for women in science-related fields here at UBC, and I try to keep up with their various events and programs, and I told my students about it when I was teaching. I even put a link to it on my web page and told them how to subscribe to the listserv. Over the summer I learned that they have a mentoring program where they match up mentors and mentees in similar fields. Most of the participants are undergrads but grad students are also welcome so I signed up, eager to encourage undergrads in biology.

This week I went to an event to meet my mentee, only to discover that she dropped out at the last minute and they haven't found me a new mentee yet. I hope they find a mentee for me. Most science-major undergrads at UBC are pre-health so people declaring an early interest in ecology and evolutionary biology are few and far between.

There was a grand total of 10 of us at this mentoring event. TEN. When you round to two decimal places that's 0% of the female student population participating in the program. Where are all the women in science? I'm guessing that 95% of them aren't aware the program exists. In previous years they've had 60+ women participate, so I'm not sure why they have such low numbers this year.

I ran into five of my former students on campus today, so maybe I'll start mentioning the program to the women that I run into. Is that too weird?


sarcozona said...

Definitely mention it to women you run into. I almost never apply to things unless someone I know tells me about it. I often think I'm not up to it until someone else believes I am :)

EcoGeoFemme said...

My uni also has a STEM women mentoring program. I volunteered to be a mentor one year and it was...underwhelming. My manatee was a freshman who had no trouble fitting in and finding her way in th3 campus culture. Since I didn't know all that much about the specifics of the undergrad course offerings, I found I didn't really have all that much to offer her. We met a few times, then it kind of fizzled out. In the end, I felt like an upper level undergrad would have been better for her, and I would have been better for an upper level undergrad who was trying to decide what to do after . I probably would have been even more useful for a first-year grad student. It was kind of disappointing, but I still think it's a worthwhile program.

Paulina said...

I think women only really start having trouble in science when they get passed their PhDs, when you have to balance kids with tenure-track demands, etc. As undergrad I did not find any need for support simply because I was a woman. Maybe it's different when you a grad student?