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2015 Pilot 1 of 5

Amplifying Voices:An Innovative Model for  the Mentoring of Diverse Biomedical/Biobehavioral Women Faculty

Principal Investigator: Sandra L. Petersen, PhD
University of Massachusetts Amherst

The UMass NRMN Amplifying Voices project will develop and evaluate a virtual mutual mentoring network of female STEM faculty from underrepresented groups across 15 institutions in the Northeast Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NEAGEP). Many Research 1 institutions have initiatives in place for hiring underrepresented STEM faculty, particularly women; however, few, if any, have effective retention and promotion strategies. In part, this is due to a lack of information about the unique needs of underrepresented women faculty in STEM. A recent Institute for Women’s Policy Research conference of 50 experts in the field produced a statement concluding that there is a need to expand mentoring opportunities for women faculty of color in STEM to combat social isolation, a need that could be met by increased cross-institutional collaborations. Our project is designed to do just that. We will use the Every Other Thursday model of mutual mentoring that is based on a novel problem-solving approach with well-developed protocols. This model has proven to be successful at UMass Amherst and at many other institutions across the country.

Our strategy is to use video conferencing technology to network five groups of eight diverse women STEM faculty members across our 15 NEAGEP institutions. Groups will include women from different types of institutions, but in the same biomedical or biobehavioral fields. Data will be collected after each of the biweekly meetings and analyzed by an external evaluator to determine the satisfaction of the participants with the program and to identify issues that are discussed and any strategies used by the participants to effectively deal with these issues. We anticipate that our project will develop a long-term cohort that will be important for identifying strategies that reduce the sense of isolation and increase the success of underrepresented women in STEM. In addition, our project will expand the NRMN and likely inform the Professional Development Core.

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