The Science of
Angela Byars-Winston and Maria Lund Dahlberg, Editors
Committee on Effective Mentoring in STEMM
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
Policy and Global Affairs
A Consensus Study Report of
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This activity was supported by contracts between the National Academy of Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (#52008818), Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (#G-2017-9885), Burroughs Wellcome Fund (#1017761), and by a grant from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine under award number 3-Nov2017-01. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-49729-9
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-49729-9
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25568.
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COMMITTEE ON EFFECTIVE MENTORING IN STEMM
ANGELA BYARS-WINSTON (Chair), Professor of Medicine, University of Wisconsin–Madison
TAMMY D. ALLEN, Professor of Psychology, University of South Florida (until March 2018)
ERIN DOLAN, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Innovative Sciences Education, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia
JOE G.N. GARCIA (NAM), Dr. Merlin K. DuVal Professor of Medicine, University of Arizona (until November 2018)
JUAN E. GILBERT, Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and Chair, Computer and Information Science and Engineering Department, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, University of Florida
SYLVIA HURTADO, Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
LAURA LUNSFORD, Professor and Chair of Psychology, Campbell University
RICHARD MCGEE, Associate Dean for Professional Development, Professor of Medical Education, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
CHRISTINE PFUND, Senior Scientist and Director, Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison
CHRISTIANE SPITZMUELLER, Professor of Psychology, University of Houston
KEIVAN STASSUN, Stevenson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Director of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation, Vanderbilt University
RENETTA TULL, Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of California, Davis
MARIA LUND DAHLBERG, Study Director
JOHN VERAS, Senior Program Assistant
AUSTEN APPLEGATE, Research Associate
ALLISON BERGER, Senior Program Assistant (until January 2018)
FREDRIC LESTINA, Senior Program Assistant (until October 2018)
ELIZABETH GARBEE, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow, 2018
KILAN ASHAD-BISHOP, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow, 2019
ADRIANA COUREMBIS, Senior Financial Business Partner
THOMAS RUDIN, Board Director, Board on Higher Education and Workforce
JOE ALPER, Consultant Writer
JEREMY WAISOME, Website Implementation Consultant
BOARD ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE
KUMBLE R. SUBBASWAMY (Chair), Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
ANGELA BYARS-WINSTON, Professor of Medicine, University of Wisconsin–Madison
JAIME CURTIS-FISK, Scientist and STEM Education Program Leader, The Dow Chemical Company
MARIELENA DESANCTIS, College Provost, Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs and Student Services, Broward College
APRILLE J. ERICSSON, Capture-Mission Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
JOAN FERRINI-MUNDY, President, University of Maine
GABRIELA GONZALEZ (NAS), Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Louisiana State University
TASHA R. INNISS, Associate Provost for Research, Spelman College
SALLY F. MASON, President Emerita, University of Iowa
DOUGLAS S. MASSEY (NAS), Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
RICHARD K. MILLER, President, Olin College of Engineering
KATE STOLL, Senior Policy Advisor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington Office
MEGHNA TARE, Executive Director, Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact, University of Texas
MARY WOOLLEY (NAM), President and Chief Executive Officer, Research!America
AUSTEN APPLEGATE, Research Associate
ARIELLE BAKER, Associate Program Officer
ASHLEY BEAR, Senior Program Officer
LIDA BENINSON, Program Officer
FRAZIER BENYA, Senior Program Officer
MARIA LUND DAHLBERG, Program Officer
ALEX HELMAN, Associate Program Officer
IRENE NGUN, Associate Program Officer
LAYNE SCHERER, Program Officer
THOMAS RUDIN, Director
JOHN VERAS, Senior Program Assistant
MARQUITA WHITING, Senior Program Assistant
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Talent is equally distributed across all sociocultural groups; access and opportunity are not. This is particularly true in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) professions1 that are expected to grow as a percent of the total workforce in the coming decades. The underrepresentation of marginalized groups in STEMM contexts is pervasive.
Individual STEMM professionals identifying as African American, Latinx, American Indian, first-generation, or sexual or gender minority individuals and individuals with disabilities continue to be less likely to be successfully integrated in STEMM environments. These individuals may be questioned about their competence, challenged in their science, and simultaneously invisible as scientists, yet under the microscope as members of underrepresented groups in STEMM. Scores of commissioned reports and empirical studies document that these experiences are all too common as features of the landscape against which the academic and career development unfolds for many from underrepresented groups. Unfortunately, good science can be hampered in uncivil and neglectful environments.
Broad integration of all segments of society in STEMM will yield significant innovation and social benefits for our nation. But how can access and opportunity be facilitated within affirming environments in support of a STEMM talent development model for all?
Mentorship is one catalytic factor to unleash individuals’ potential for discovery, curiosity, and participation in STEMM and subsequently improve the training envi-
ronment in which that STEMM potential is fostered.2 Mentoring relationships provide developmental spaces in which students’ STEMM skills are honed and pathways into STEMM fields can be discovered. Mentoring relationships are high-stakes, interpersonal encounters and exchanges. These relationships have the potential to assist nascent STEMM professionals in seeing themselves through the eyes of an influential guide, finding their place in STEMM education and careers, and receiving support to realize their next stages in development. Mentorship has rarely received the focused attention, evaluation, and recognition of other professional responsibilities associated with academic STEMM, such as teaching or research. Because mentorship can be so influential in shaping the future STEMM workforce, its occurrence should not be left to chance or idiosyncratic implementation. There is a gap between what we know about effective mentoring and how it is practiced in higher education.
To address this gap, the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed the Committee on the Science of Effective Mentoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM). Our committee is composed of leaders in higher education and industry with expertise in STEMM academic and career development, theory and research on mentorship, and institutional and national-scale programmatic interventions to broaden participation in STEMM. Members gave repeatedly of their knowledge and insights and engaged in vigorous debate and discussion with collegiality and humor that at times turned the challenging nature of this report into a hugely gratifying collaboration. I am tremendously honored to have learned from each member, all of whom I now count as friends. We are indebted to the National Academies professionals, including Study Director Maria Lund Dahlberg and BHEW Director Tom Rudin, who converted my suggestion for this study into reality, and provided the leadership, expertise, and inspiration for an expansive vision for this committee’s work. We are most grateful for the writing expertise of Joe Alper and the BHEW staff and fellows who supported the committee’s research efforts and provided logistical oversight to the study.
Since convening our first committee meeting in December 2017, we held nearly 20 listening sessions with numerous constituencies at professional society meetings, commissioned 3 literature reviews, and convened 3 public workshops across the country, hearing from experts in the study and practice of mentorship. We were guided by the following questions: What are common definitions and differentiations among the various models of mentoring in STEMM? What are the most successful elements of effective mentoring relationships in STEMM education at the various stages of career development? How can and should mentees and mentors be trained to be more effective
2 The committee defines mentorship as a professional, working alliance in which individuals work together over time to support the personal and professional growth, development, and success of the relational partners through the provision of career and psychosocial support. The details of this definition are discussed in Chapter 2.
in the mentor-mentee relationship? To answer these and other questions, we worked to establish consensus definitions, examine assessment and evaluation of mentorship processes and programs, and gauge the level of evidence for various forms of mentorship. The result is a robust set of recommendations for multiple stakeholders to better support the talent development of all individuals in STEMM at the level of training programs, departments, faculty, and funding agencies.
For some who read this report and wonder, “There is a science of mentorship?” we hope that this report both affirmatively answers this question and confirms that mentorship is a skill that can be developed through intentional and reflective practice and cultural responsiveness. Further, the committee has created an online interactive guide based on the content of this report to increase access to and use of the findings, which can be adopted and adapted by institutions, departments, and individual faculty members.
The nation’s federal investment in broadening participation over the last 40 years has yielded observable increases in the STEMM baccalaureate and graduate degrees attained by individuals from underrepresented groups. They are part of the fastest-growing sociodemographic groups in the U.S. population. The challenge remains, how can the talent of these individuals be effectively developed once they are enrolled in STEMM degree programs? We hope that this report informs practice, research, and theory on mentorship in STEMM as part of the solution to address this challenge.
Angela Byars-Winston, Chair
Committee on the Science of Effective Mentoring in
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Gloria Crisp, Oregon State University; Christine Grant, North Carolina State University; Ruth Gotian, Cornell University; Cato Laurencin, University of Connecticut; Sandra Laursen, University of Colorado, Boulder; Kelly Mack, Project Kaleidoscope, Association of American Colleges and Universities; Michael Manga, University of California, Berkeley; Milton Allen Northrop, MIODx; and Ericka Reid, National Institutes of Health.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Eve Higginbotham, University of Pennsylvania, and Paul Gray, University of California, Berkeley. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
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