Mentoring for academic
leadershipTopHow to feel as bright and capableMentoring support

Mentoring support: National and local resources for mentoring

Chair Eve Riskin, University of Washington
Panel Carol Muller, Founder and CEO of MentorNet
Sheila Humphreys, Academic Coordinator for Student Matters,
EECS Department, UC Berkeley
Suzanne Brainard, Executive Director, Center for Workforce
Development; Affiliate Professor Technical Communication;
Affiliate Professor, Women Studies; University of Washington
Candace Rypisi, Director, Caltech Women's Center
Nancy G. Love, Associate Professor,

Web resources

We here collect for convenience several URLs providing resources relevant to mentoring.

Case studies

Many institutions and organizations have developed infrastructures to facilitate finding and working with mentors and for training both mentors and mentees to get full advantage of the relationship. This chapter collects a variety of examples of successful programs, some of which are generally available and some of which provide templates for other institutions to consider. Unlike the other chapters, here the sections closely correspond to specific panel members since these are essentially successful case studies. These include:


Carol Muller
Copyright ©2004 by Carol Muller

About MentorNet

MentorNet ( is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing national and local resources for mentoring. Its primary service is an E-mentoring network for women in engineering and science.

MentorNet provides an infrastructure for e-mentoring for higher education, industry, government, and nonprofit organizations, and offers a large-scale, multi-institutional online network with an extensive, diverse pool of participants. MentorNet offers the online programmatic and administrative infrastructure, as well as focused expertise to support a high-quality set of programs in collaboration with its partnering organizations, which provide financial resources and channels of communication to reach prospective program participants students and professionals. MentorNet's programs are research-based and regularly evaluated, drawing up research and experience related to the experiences of women students and faculty in engineering and science fields, to mentoring and mentoring programs, and to the use of electronic communications in building productive professional relationships between individuals who may never meet in person.


Using email as a medium for building and communicating in mentoring relationships has both obvious advantages and drawbacks. Email is easy, comfortable, and accessible for regular computer users, which includes virtually all students in higher education today and professionals in engineering and science fields. Electronic communications transcend geographical distance, allowing people to meet and communicate at length regardless of their location in the world. Because it is an asynchronous technology, email allows users to communicate when convenient to their own personal schedule, without having to coordinate with anyone else's schedule, and without having to schedule a time in advance. Email is generally less expensive than communicating by telephone, and clearly has significant economic advantages over having to travel to meet with someone face-to-face.

Still, email is a very flat medium for communications. It relies primarily on writing and occasional "emoticons" to convey expression, but does not offer the vast array of communications via facial expression, tone of voice, body language, and shared activities. Relying solely on verbal expression can be limiting.

On the other hand, that written expression provides the opportunity for thoughtful, deliberate communication in a way that the immediacy of face-to-face communications sometimes does not. Providing a written record of communication, email allows those communicating to go back and review a record of past communications rarely captured in face-to-face meetings. Writing, too, offers an opportunity for reflective learning, and when a mentor provides feedback on a protégé's expressed thoughts, questions, ideas, and self-reflections, the mentor helps continue to the cycle of reflective learning.

Email also provides a restrictive channel of communication. Rather than competing for a mentor's time and attention after class or a meeting, a protégé knows that when the mentor is reading email, the mentor is giving undivided attention at that particular point in time to the protégé's interests and concerns. As a result, the medium may be particularly helpful for those who are shy, introverted, or marginalized for whatever reason.

A particular advantage of email for mentoring may be that in electronic communications, status differences are much reduced. Whether the person with whom one is communicating speaks with an accent, or is younger, older, shorter, taller, darker, lighter, physically attractive, well-dressed, or not, is not communicated and thus does not influence perceptions. Research shows that until provided with evidence to the contrary most individuals operating in an electronic communications environment tend to assume the individual with whom they are communicating is similar to themselves. Such assumptions help to build relationships at the outset without prejudice based on appearance. Nor need a protégé, for instance, be concerned with what to wear, or be intimidated by the grandeur, elegance, or entourage of a mentor's setting. Instead, they can go immediately to the topic of their mentoring communications.

Mentoring programs

Mentoring programs represent attempts on the part of organizations to capture the benefits of mentoring for more of the population than is currently gaining benefits from mentoring relationships that develop without such support. As a result, the organization is attempting to replicate a learning process for individuals and in cases where this kind of learning is not developing on its own. Not surprisingly, researchers have found that some structure and program facilitation increases the likelihood of productive mentoring occurring as a result of structured mentoring programs.

The most effective mentoring programs incorporate eight essential elements: appropriate preparation through research and planning, resource development, attention to how participants will be recruited, determination of the bases and processes for matching participants in mentoring relationships, provision of training to assist both mentors and protégés in building effective mentoring relationships, provision of "coaching" or program facilitation which provides ongoing communication for participants with program staff, processes for ending mentoring relationships at appropriate times, and processes for evaluation of both the individual relationships and of the program as a whole.

Despite careful attention to all these elements, it's important to have realistic expectations for results of mentoring relationships. Like those which develop naturally, not all program-created mentoring relationships will succeed and in fact, a higher proportion of them may fail. Not all matches will be successful. What we do know from the research is that relationships are more likely to be successful when both mentor and protégé can early on in their meeting can easily identify common interests, when communications between mentor and protégé occur regularly and frequently, and when they establish a mutually agreed-upon set of objectives and expectations for the relationship. The single biggest reason that any mentoring relationship fails is due to the inability of mentor and protégé to meet due to constraints of time and location.

Because of the requirements for effective mentoring programs, they can be resource-intensive. Initiating a mentoring program without attention to detail and the real time and other resource costs of implementation is likely to lead to frustration on the part of participants, and/or burn-out on the part of those operating the mentoring program.

MentorNet's one-on-one programs

The objective of MentorNet's One-on-One programs is to pair undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and early career faculty with appropriate engineering or science professionals for eight-month-long, structured, email-based relationships, and to provide training and coaching to enable productive mentorships to develop. MentorNet provides online information and direction for prospective participants. Those interested complete online profiles providing information about both their backgrounds and their preferences in being matched in one-on-one relationships. Algorithms developed by MentorNet sort through the pool of prospective mentors for each protégé and identify the top five which optimizing both parties' choices. Protégés may then opt to have MentorNet match them with the top choice, or may select from among the anonymous profiles of the top five choices. Online mentor and protégé guides provide training, as do interactive online case study training tutorials. Coaching offers customized discussion suggestions sent every 1-2 weeks to each mentor and protégé, coupled with opportunities to consult on an individual basis with MentorNet program staff. These discussion suggestions also serve as helpful reminders to participants to keep their commitment to exchanging email on a weekly basis, and a direct and easy link back to the program staff should any questions or problems arise.

In almost all cases, MentorNet is pairing protégés with mentors who are external to their organization. It's helpful to note some differences between external and internal mentors. The latter can provide very helpful information and advice concerning the specific practices and mores of the local environment. The former frequently has the advantage for the protégé of having no other vested interest in the protégé's success. Internal mentors frequently play other roles as advisers, supervisors, or teachers, for example. Protégés may feel freer to express doubts, concerns, and fears, and explore nontraditional academic and/or career development paths with mentors who are unlikely to inadvertently or intentionally feed such information back to a protégé's supervisor, colleagues, peers, parents, advisers, teachers, etc. Student participants in MentorNet's programs frequently cite the objectivity of their external mentor as one of the primary benefits of the relationship. These mentorships complement the kinds of mentoring students may receive on campus and in person from academic advisers and others, and represent a good example of how having multiple mentors can be beneficial.

Between early 1998, when MentorNet's web site and One-on-One program first became available, and September 28, 2004, 11,794 pairs of mentors and protégés were matched. Though MentorNet's programs are specifically designed with the interests of advancing women in engineering and science in mind, men are welcome to participate, and a growing number do so (e.g. men were 35% of MentorNet mentors; 10% of protégés in 2002-03).

Recently MentorNet has added mentoring for those interested in academic careers with the development of a new program, Academic Career E-Mentoring, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and WEPAN. The program promotes one-on-one mentoring for academic careers, matching graduate students and early career (untenured tenure-track) faculty with tenured faculty mentors. During the first year of this program (2003-04), 49 pairs of graduate students and tenured faculty members were matched. In fall of 2004, the program will be extended to match early career faculty with tenured faculty mentors. In this new program's first year, the biggest challenge has been recruiting sufficient tenured faculty members to serve as mentors for all the graduate students who were interested in having such mentors.

MentorNet's population is increasingly multi-cultural and international; graduate students, African-American students, and Hispanic students have indicated especially high levels of value from the One-on-One program. In evaluation findings, 96% of mentors and 94% of students say they would recommend the program to a colleague or friend. Regular online surveys at the end of the 8-month One-on-One e-mentoring relationships provide feedback for evaluation of the programs from the points of view of both mentors and protégés. Self-reported student outcomes include:

Based on self-reports, outcomes for mentors include:

MentorNet URLs of interest

Participating colleges and universities:
MentorNet sponsoring organizations:
MentorNet News:
Evaluation reports:
First person stories of MentorNet participants:

Mentoring: A Berkeley perspective

Sheila Humphreys

In these reflections on mentoring, the emphasis is placed on the mentoring of students by students through the creation of a strong women's graduate community. In the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Berkeley, the student group Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WICSE) celebrated in 2004 a quarter century of advocacy and activism. WICSE alumnae joined current students in marking this milestone for women. A viable student group of this kind provides peer support, mentoring of students at earlier stages of study, and an important source of input to faculty.

WICSE offers students a framework which is purposefully supported by the EECS Department, with funding, space for meetings, and acknowledgment in departmental governance at the annual Faculty Retreat. WICSE's core activity is a weekly lunch meeting, held year round; once a month the lunch includes undergraduate women. WICSE actively participates in recruiting new women graduate students, and organizes Big Sister mentoring pairs for entering women. Because of its longevity, WICSE has the benefit of a history, and links to former students. An online database of women Ph.D. graduates in CS and EE forms a virtual community for current students, which forges ties to alumnae. The database, which tracks employment, demonstrates to current students that more than one third of the graduates work in academia. "Today Berkeley graduates make up one fifth of the female faculty in the top 15 computer science departments," states Professor Katherine Yelick.
Helping to formulate policies which respond to the needs of students, WICSE students developed and championed a "Parent Policy" a decade ago; the policy which has since been adopted by the UCB campus, allows graduate student parents to curtail their research and extend academic deadlines at critical times after childbirth. The parent policy is a safety net, and humanizes the departmental "climate."

How does the departmental infrastructure support WICSE? A commitment to diversity is essential. Faculty leaders need to recognize the importance of student communities in helping graduate students to flourish. Official recognition of women students' voice, funding to support refreshments, some staff assistance for logistics, and a sensitivity to issues facing women graduate students are all important. Department leaders must include gender balance in hiring considerations, visiting professorships, colloquia and outreach programs funded by NSF and other federal grants.

The Department benefits greatly from a strong women's community; WICSE contributes substantially to diversity programs initiated by the EECS Department, such as SUPERB, the Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Bekeley. SUPERB brings underserved students from all over to Cal for IT research; 36% of our participants have been female since 1990. WICSE members serve as research mentors for these students.

At Cal, WICSE and the EECS Department have been greatly assisted by synergistic efforts with industry. Industry colleagues often provide the push to recruit and train a diverse graduate student body, to sponsor undergraduate research, to enable students to attend conferences, and to learn the range of opportunities after graduation. For example, a large number of WICSE students have been able to attend conferences like the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, and the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing because of industrial scholarships for travel. The Intel Foundation and Microsoft have been very supportive.

The Black Graduate Students in Science and Engineering (BGESS), founded in 1987, serves as a minority cohort in science, engineering, and mathematics. Its efforts at building community and research mentoring resulted in the Chancellor's Outstanding Service Award in 2004. BGESS has supported recruiting efforts in several departments. BGESS helped found and is an active participant in SUPERB.

These web sites provide detailed information on the history and activities of WICSE, the women's graduate program in EECS at Berkeley, and BGESS:

Mentoring at the Center for Workforce

Suzanne Gage Brainard

The Center for Workforce Development (CWD) manages several different mentoring programs to introduce students to experienced individuals, who act as advisers and role models in their respective fields of interest.

Faculty and Graduate Student mentoring Program

The Faculty and Graduate Mentoring Program's goals are to increase the recruitment and retention of women graduate students. The program provides information through seminars, panel discussions, and advising; dispels myths about graduate school; and provides role models. Some of the events focus on the development of a supportive community, where other events emphasize development of an intellectual community.

The Faculty Graduate Mentoring Program promotes mentoring relationships between female graduate students and faculty members. The program's goals are to:

Graduate students are paired to faculty members with similar research interests and career paths. A unique aspect of the mentoring program is the training and support provided to the mentoring pairs. In 1998 the Center for Workforce Development/WISE received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring for The Curriculum for Training Mentors and Mentees in Science and Engineering and its mentoring programs. The entire curriculum is available for purchase as a book from WEPAN, contact for an order form. The Curriculum for Training Mentors and Mentees in Science and Engineering includes:

The content is comprehensive and covers a multitude of topics including:

  1. Overview
    1. Purpose
    2. Need for Training Mentors and Mentees
    3. A Working Definition of Mentoring
    4. Content of A Curriculum for Training Mentors and Mentees
    5. Strategies for Delivering Training
    6. Determining Your Needs for Training
    7. Summary
    8. References
    9. Forms
  2. Conducting Training Sessions
    1. Introduction
    2. Resources: Physical and Human
    3. Delivering Training
    4. Summary
    5. References
    6. Forms
  3. Core
    1. Introduction
    2. The Mentor and Mentee Handbooks
    3. The Goals of Mentoring and Training Mentors and Mentees
    4. Benefits to the Mentors and Mentees
    5. Responsibilities of Mentors and Mentees
    6. Expectations
    7. Guidelines for Mentoring
    8. Types of Mentoring Relationships
    9. Mentoring Challenges: Stereotypes, Biases, and Discrimination
    10. Navigating a Cross-Gender Mentoring Relationship
    11. Navigating a Cross-Racial Mentoring Relationship
    12. Potential Pitfalls and Helpful Hints
    13. Resources: Where and When to Go for Help
    14. Periodic Assessment by Mentors and Mentees
    15. Summary
    16. References
    17. Forms
  4. Complementary Curriculum
    1. Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students
    2. Interpersonal Communication
    3. How to Set-Up a Mentoring Program
  5. Evaluation
    1. Introduction
    2. Reasons for Evaluating
    3. Benefits of Evaluation
    4. Types of Evaluation
    5. Selecting an External Evaluator
    6. Administering the Pre-Designed Evaluation Questionnaires
    7. Summary
    8. References
    9. Forms
  6. Bibliography
  7. Appendices
    1. Appendix A: Student Mentee Handbook
    2. Appendix B: Professional Mentor Handbook
    3. Appendix C: Faculty Mentor Handbook
    4. Appendix D: Video Guide
    5. Appendix E: Overheads
  8. Video

The curriculum includes a special section on faculty mentoring graduate students. The curriculum is used to help faculty and students develop clear expectations and goals for the mentoring relationship. In addition to the training, the mentoring pairs are invited to workshops and events on academic, professional and personal development.

The CWD approach to mentoring

Mentoring is broader than advising. Advisers tend to focus more on academic progression and less on personal or professional development of their graduate students. Mentoring consists of advising, teaching, counseling and role modeling. Mentors focus on a mentee's achievements, success in school and preparation for the workforce through a one-on-one relationship that is non-threatening and non-judgmental to both parties. It is a relationship that changes over time as each grows, learns, and gains experiences in the relationship.

Relationships with mentors can be the most formative in student lives. Mentors can provide insight on aspects of academic life that course work does not address, including identifying the key players in the field, understanding the politics in academe, finding and evaluating hot research topics, deciding which conferences to submit work to and to attend, and which journals in which to publish.

Challenges in the mentor/student relationship include cross-gender or cross-racial mentoring, unrealistic expectations or excessive time demands, failure to maintain common and professional courtesies, inappropriate matches, and dependent or romantic relationships. People who are interested in mentoring people from different backgrounds are encouraged to read White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack by Peggy McIntosh Mentoring is not always forever; there are situations where a mentoring relationship should be terminated or changed. There can be a no-fault termination to avoid hard feelings.

A big factor in graduate student attrition is confidence level. So methods to encourage students are important. Undergraduate research can break large groups into small groups and provide mentoring. See the Building Science and Engineering Talent Website at Encourage multiple mentors.

Chemistry graduate student mentoring program

The Chemistry Graduate Student Mentoring Program is a collaboration between the Chemistry Department and CWD. It builds upon the Faculty Graduate Student Mentoring Program.

The goals of the program are to:

Nanotechnology Mentoring Program

The Nanotechnology Mentoring program was developed in the fall of 2001 in cooperation with the Center for Nanotechnology and CWD. Its primary objective is to serve the student population through positive social, professional and academic networking, occupational guidance, student retention, informational programs, and providing students with positive role models. In addition, the mentoring program serves a diverse student population including graduate students from nine interdisciplinary fields. Students are encouraged to participate in the multifaceted aspects of the program, which are comprised of the mentor and mentee relationship, industry speakers and department luncheons.

Examples of program events include:

Undergraduate Professional Mentoring Program

The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Professional Mentoring program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to develop relationships with professionals in engineering and science fields. In 1998, the program was the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring and is dedicated to facilitating the personal and career development of women in these fields.

The objectives of the program are:

The WISE Professional Mentoring program is geared to students who have already decided on their respective science or engineering area of study. These students are matched with a mentor in their field and participate in program events and training workshops. Students and professionals have an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their mentoring relationship annually.

The Caltech women's center

Candace Rypisi

The mission of the Caltech Women's Center ( is to promote the advancement of women in science and engineering. The Women's Center works to supports the central research and educational mission of Caltech, while providing students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and faculty with opportunities, programs, and services that address gender issues and promote success, equity, and safety.

Research has shown that mentoring:

For women in science mentoring:

New ways of looking at mentoring

According to Lois Zachary, The Mentor's Guide, the old paradigm for mentoring was that it was based on the assumption that the mentor is an "expert" in a field and that the protégé passively learns through what is passed on by the mentor, and the new paradigm is that mentoring is a partnership based on mutual learning, growth, and satisfaction. In the new model mentoring can take on many roles:

acts as a sounding board to help protégés solve problems or issues
gives candid feedback, assistance with career, and advice
role model
leads by example
listens, helps protégé gain exposure, opens doors

In many cases the old paradigm assumed that all of your mentoring needs could or would be met by one person. Today, experts suggest that we seek out different mentors for different needs.

Needs assessment with students

Undergraduates believe strongly that mentoring is needed, especially in times of transition. They identify their primary needs as academic progress, negotiating campus culture, and gaining leadership skills. They also identified an interest in gaining access and connection to women faculty and women in industry-role models. The ideal mentors are seen as faculty women; someone who understands Caltech culture, and someone they like

Graduate Students feel mentoring is needed and a key part of their academic and professional development. They identify their primary needs as academic progress, career development, work-life balance, and challenges for women in science. They state that faculty women make the best mentors. Their main concern is confidentiality.

Program development

At the Cal Tech Women's Center an effort is made to think about mentoring in a broader, more holistic way and to develop programs that allow for one-to-one mentoring with a more senior person; peer support and community building; career development opportunities; and access to women role models/leaders in science and engineering.

The center taps into other campus resources to "round out" our programs and struggles with the challenges of not enough women faculty and not enough women in certain disciplines to meet the need. The initial program was begun in a small way with an emphasis on personal connection and on the training of mentors and protégés. Several of the projects initiated by the program follow.

Women Mentoring Women program

The women Mentoring Women (WMW) Program matches women postdoctoral scholars with graduate women for a formal, one-to-one mentoring experience. The purpose of the program is to provide support for women graduate students as they negotiate their academic, professional, and personal development and to provide postdoc mentors an opportunity to develop leadership skills and improve communication skills. This program was initiated by the Caltech Postdoc Association in collaboration with several offices. It provides orientations, monthly face to face mentoring meetings, and monthly workshops. It also provides resources in terms of books, articles, and coffee stipends.

JPL Undergraduate Mentoring Program (JUMP)

This collaborative effort between the Women's Center and the Jet Propulsion Lab brings together Caltech women undergraduates and JPL researchers and scientists in order to build a foundation for future collaboration, mentoring, networking, and research opportunities. It provides lab tours, a fall luncheon, and a spring research talk.


Caltech partners with MentorNet to provide its services to our undergraduate and graduate students.

Graduate women's discussion group

This weekly, drop-in, gathering allows graduate women to explore topics pertinent to their academic, professional and personal lives. By sharing their own stories and hearing those of others, this is a great opportunity to tap into the strengths and supportive network of graduate women at Caltech.

Other programs

Several smaller programs in which the Center is involved include the Big Sister Program of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Career Development Leadership Series, and the Project of Effective Teaching.

The NSF ADVANCE program

Started in 2001, the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program seeks to promote and advance the participation of women in faculty careers in science, engineering, and mathematics (SEM). As of 2004, nearly 20 universities, such as the Universities of Alabama at Birmingham, Michigan, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Texas at El Paso, and Washington, held ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Awards, to address issues at the institutions to improve the situation for women faculty there. An important goal of many ADVANCE sites is to increase the number of women academic leaders in SEM. The NSF ADVANCE Web site is From this link, all of the Web sites for the Institutional Transformation sites can be obtained.

Advancing women at Virginia Tech
through institutional transformation

Nancy G. Love and Tess Wynn

The Virginia Tech ADVANCE Program mission statement is to Increase the number of women electing to pursue academic careers through empowerment and skill building programs, and by establishing a supportive climate that eliminates barriers to success.

The ADVANCE Program has three principal goals:

Collaboration with the Graduate School

Current activities include programs that complement the "Preparing the Future Professoriate" (PFP) curriculum, work-life grants for graduate students, and focus group activities to define program development issues.
"The university community assumes all graduate students are single. There is little support or recognition for family life issues as they they pertain to graduate students." -- Graduate Student Focus Group Participant, May 2004.

Future activities include day care for graduate students with families; a series of speakers from a broad range of college and university settings to talk about academic careers; a conference in 2006 focused on advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) women into academic careers; and formalized programs during graduate student recruitment weekend.

"I just don't see good examples of female role models. I wonder if I really want to be a professor." -- Graduate Student Focus Group Participant, May 2004

Improving the climate for women at Virginia Tech

Current activities include mentored postdoctoral and graduate student fellowship programs and a grass-roots effort to initiate a post-doctoral Research Associates Network. Future activities include formalization of a Post-Doctoral Research Associates Network and the establishment of a Council on Women that focuses on graduate student/post- doctoral student issues across STEM colleges.
"If you want to inspire postdocs to become faculty members, it would be helpful if some people who are already faculty gave us some insight into the reality of their job and how to succeed."-- Postdoctoral Research Associate, April 2004

Improving skills to achieve productive and healthy
mentoring and networking practices

Current activities include facilitated networking lunches (peer and across groups). Future activities include skill building workshops for students and post-doctoral research associates and "How to be a mentor" for faculty!
"As a Ph.D. student, I participated in a program attended by women engineering faculty from 13 southeastern universities. It was awesome! That was the day that I first believed that I might actually be capable of succeeding as an engineering faculty member." -- Nancy Love, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, July 30, 2002

May 9, 2005

Mentoring for academic
leadershipTopHow to feel as bright and capableMentoring support