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An increasing body of work is exploring mentoring within contexts that go beyond traditional one-on-one mentoring, including learning communities and mentoring circles. Research indicates that these alternative forms of mentoring better support all faculty, including those whose identities tend to lead to isolation in STEM: BIPOC faculty, women, and LGBTQ+. Group mentoring approaches can address multiple facets of the mentee(s) as a whole person in an efficient manner. Cross-Institutional Mentoring Communities (CIMCs) were designed to create networks of mentoring as a support and feedback mechanism for faculty who may also face challenges related to their personal characteristics and/or specific identities, especially intersectional identities traditionally underrepresented in STEM, or simultaneous demands of an academic career and caregiving responsibilities. Communities were formed with two to three junior and/or mid-career faculty and one or two senior mentors from four midwestern institutions. With the goal of retention at the forefront, quantitative and qualitative assessments of the CIMCs were designed to enable formative feedback to guide improvements to the CIMC support network and further implementation phases. While it was not originally the intent, the CIMCs also provided an opportunity to more deeply examine how the pandemic impacted women faculty with identities that compound disadvantage. Virtualmore »Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
This paper describes the development and implementation of a Cross-Institutional Mentoring Communities (CIMC) program. CIMCs were designed to create networks of mentoring as a robust support and feedback mechanism for faculty facing compounded challenges related to their personal characteristics and/or specific identities, especially intersectional identities traditionally underrepresented in STEM (e.g., women of color, LGBTQIA+ faculty, faculty with disabilities), or simultaneous demands of an academic career and family caregiving responsibilities. Communities were formed with two to three junior and/or mid-career faculty, women, and men, from four midwestern institutions; each CIMC was facilitated by one or two more senior mentors. Virtual meetings were held at roughly bimonthly intervals. Mentors were regularly provided guidance on mentoring and topics to discuss with their mentoring groups. The CIMC networks facilitated career obstacle problem-solving, as well as enhanced a sense of community and belonging. The program worked to reduce the isolation, exclusion, and silencing of non-majority individuals within the typical academic career progression in addition to adapting to support during pandemic-altered faculty challenges. Key advantages of CIMCs included enabling inter-institutional exchanges and reflective learning among committee members about similarities and differences in climate and opportunities on different campuses. This paper will review the premise and literaturemore »
Creating a collaborative cross-institutional culture to support STEM women of color and women with family responsibilities at four midwestern research institutions.NSF ADVANCE has been instrumental in supporting institutional practices leading to the increased representation of women in STEM. However, research suggests institutional culture and practices evolve slowly, and much progress remains to create a collaborative and supportive work environment where women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers can thrive, particularly those with intersectional identities, including women of color and women with caregiving responsibilities. A partnership of four midwestern research universities joined together in late 2019 to adapt, design, implement, and assess the impact of a coordinated suite of programs intended to enhance the career success of women and underrepresented STEM faculty. The programs promote mentoring, male advocacy, and informed and intentional leadership as integral to campus culture, and foster community and cross-institutional data-based collaboration. This paper summarizes the programs designed and implemented to improve retention and job satisfaction of women in STEM fields with a focus on the intersectionalities of women of color and women with family responsibilities, including navigating the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, by creating support networks for these faculty.