9.1 Welcoming Women into Science: Mentoring to Retain Undergraduate Women

Wednesday, 9 January 2019: 3:00 PM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Emily V. Fischer, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO; and B. Bloodhart, A. S. Adams, R. Barnes, M. A. Burt, S. M. Clinton, W. Du, E. S. Godfrey, H. Henderson, I. B. Pollack, and P. Hernandez

Gender diverse teams are essential for exceptional science, but atmospheric science may have the fewest women of all the earth sciences. PROmoting Geoscience Research, Education, and SuccesS (PROGRESS) is a highly successful role modeling and mentoring program aimed at supporting college women interested in the geosciences (geosciencewomen.org). A team with expertise in atmospheric science, gender, and educational psychology developed PROGRESS and continues to test its efficacy. The program serves undergraduate women in two distinct geographic regions (Colorado/Wyoming Front Range and the Carolinas), and includes women from minority-serving institutions. This study is unique because it is being conducted in a long-term applied setting across multiple universities, and we can compare female STEM majors in PROGRESS to a matched control group using a longitudinal prospective multi-site quasi-experimental design. Specifically, PROGRESS members identify more female STEM career mentors than their peers (60% vs. 42%, respectively), which in turn predicts higher rates of persistence in geoscience-related majors (95% vs. 73%). Further, having more female role models and mentors increases college women’s identification with science and disrupts their perception that women do not belong in science, both of which impact their interest in persisting in science majors. Our data indicates that interventions like PROGRESS can develop the support networks of undergraduate women and potentially boost the likelihood of retaining women in the geosciences. Here we discuss these results and provide a brief overview of how to implement the mature aspects of PROGRESS in atmospheric science programs.
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