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Tele-Mentoring Catching on with College Students - What About Faculty?

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E-mail tele-mentoring is catching on at many college campuses. The program described below matches women college students in science and engineering with mentor professionals in industry.

Does anybody know of other examples involving students either as mentees or as mentors? What about electronic mentoring between faculty, particularly faculty at different institutions? Does such an idea make sense? Does anyone know of any such ef forts? 

Rick Reis 

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MentorNet Needs More Mentors 

The Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network, WEPAN, has launched an initiative, called MentorNet that uses the Internet and electronic mail to connect college female engineering, science and math students acro ss the country with volunteer mentors employed in scientific and technical fields in private industry. The goal of MentorNet is to link 250 female students with female and male mentors in the first year and 5,000 by the fifth year. Fifteen universities have been invited to participate in the virtual network during 1998. 

Industry professionals in science or engineering who would like to encourage more women to pursue their interests in scientific and technical study and careers, are invited to consider serving as an on-line mentor to an und ergraduate or graduate student through MentorNet. At the moment there is a strong need to match mentors with students studying chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, biological sciences, and biochemistry. Thus , WEPAN needs mentors in civil, mechanical, and chemical engineering fields, and in the biotechnical, semiconductor, and pharmaceutical industries. 

Overall, women are increasing their presence in the U.S. workforce. They are, however, only 8.5% of the engineers, 30.6% of the mathematical and computer scientists and 29.3% of the natural scientists; and women with techn ical backgrounds are more likely to be employed in the public or nonprofit sectors than in industry. 

Mentoring is a proven strategy in encouraging the retention of women in these fields where they are currently under-represented. E-mail allows mentoring relationships to occur where geography, time, or financial constraint s would make face-to-face mentoring difficult. Requirements include a commitment to mentor at least through the end of the academic year (~May 1998), and 2-4 e-mail exchanges per month with the student. Introductory and training information and on-going program communications are provided to assist mentors and students in creating an effective mentoring relationship. 

MentorNet is a national program, based on a successful two-year pilot program started at Dartmouth College by Dr. Carol Muller, MentorNet executive director. In its first year, students from 15 different universities acros s the country are participating. This number will grow as the program develops. 

For more information and on-line applications to apply to serve as a mentor, please contact: 

Carol B. Muller, Ph.D. 
Executive Director, MentorNet 
c/o College of Engineering 
One Washington Square 
San Jose State University 
San Jose, CA 95192-0080 
FAX: 408/924-3818