Female peer mentors early in college increase women’s positive academic experiences and retention in engineering
Female mentors promoted aspirations to pursue engineering careers by protecting women’s belonging and confidence. Greater belonging and confidence were also associated with more engineering retention. Notably, grades were not associated with year 1 retention. The benefits of mentoring endured beyond the intervention, for 2 y of college, the time of greatest attrition from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors.
Mentorship is a uniquely important human relationship spanning history and
culture. Even a casual perusal of art, music, literature, and science shows how
mentorship has nurtured creativity and inspiration. Although myriad people go
through life without ever having been mentored or mentoring another, growing
evidence points to significant psychological benefits in this relationship for both
participants. Mentees gain greater self-esteem, career focus, well-being, and
leadership capability (Daloz, 1999; Eby et al., 2008; Grocutt et al., 2020; Kass,
2017; Lee et al., 2020; Van Dam et al., 2018); they may also find their sense of
calling validated and strengthened (Ehardt & Ensher, 2021). Mentors experi-
ence gains related to generativity in a variety of capacities (Bengtsson &
Flisback, 2021; Lodi-Smith et al., 2021; Mendez et al., 2019; Seeman et al.,
2020; Villar & Serrat, 2014) and professional development (Hudson, 2013).
Evidence exists too concerning economic and career benefits for recipients of
mentoring in diverse fields (Allen et al., 2004; Timpe & Lunkenheimer, 2015).
The necessity of undergraduate research experiences
(UREs) for students in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM), and science education, is well-estab -
lished in the literature (Dolan and Johnson, 2009; Hayward
et al., 2017; Hamos et al., 2009; National Academies of Sci-
ences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017). Although there
are variations on traditional dyadic mentoring, in the typical
STEM-URE, the student is considered an apprentice with
few opportunities to share knowledge.