In spring 2001 the AWM (Association
for Women in Mathematics) Mentor Network, which has its "headquarters"
in the School of Mathematics, officially got off the ground. The goal
of the Network is to match mentors with girls and women who are interested
in mathematics and/or are pursuing careers in mathematics. The network
is intended to link mentors (both men and women) with a variety of groups:
recent Ph.D.'s, graduate students, undergraduate students, high school
and grade school students, and teachers. Matching is based on common interests
in careers in academia or industry, math education, balance of career
and family, or general mathematical interests. Contact is usually through
email, phone, or regular mail. The Network has been steadily growing,
thanks to the financial assistance and office support given by the AWM,
the School of Mathematics, the IMA,
the Office of University Women,
and ITCEP. At the time that
this article is written, there have been approximately 120 requests for
mentors, and about 100 mentor volunteers, nearly all of which have been
assigned to a "mentor pair." The network has been advertised
through several means – some targeted advertising through university contacts,
advisor referrals, notices on the AWM web site and in the AWM newsletter,
and a very common way, word of mouth.
Mentor requests have been received from high school students through
recent Ph.D.'s, with the bulk of the requests coming from undergraduate
and graduate students. Some of the requests have come from other countries,
including Canada, Romania, Argentina, South Africa, India, and Australia.
Some requests are very specific, looking for a mentor on a particular
topic, such as "How do I get my thesis in shape for publication?",
or "What types of non-academic careers are available to a person
with a statistics degree?". Others are more general, such as "I
love doing math" and "What should I expect as I start a tenure
track job?". Recently we’ve been increasing our contact with high
school groups, so the range of requests has continued to grow. Because
of the broad range of requests, we are always looking for additional mentor
volunteers, both men and women!
The different mentoring styles have also "shaped" the network.
In at least one case, two mentors have combined their pairs to form a
joint mentor group. Some mentors with more than one mentee communicate
with them both jointly and separately. We're always open for suggestions
and comments for improving the network. As we increase the publicity for
the network, we expect it to grow and develop.
A recent expansion has been a cooperative effort with the Institute
for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) to set up research topic-related
mentoring and discussion forums at the IMA Research Communities web site:
Rachel Kuske, Professor
and Associate Director of MCIM
The University of Minnesota
is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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