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Dr. Muller is the founder and Executive Director of MentorNet at the College of Engineering, San Jose State University. She has 22 years in higher education. She holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. These degrees are in Philosophy and English, Education Administration and Policy Analysis, respectively. She served from 1987 to 1996 in Dartmouth's School of Engineering as an Associate Dean for the administration. Her previous work at Dartmouth and Stanford is outstanding. Her website is www.mentornet.net.


Creating and Sustaining a
Large-Scale National Electronic
Mentoring Program

Carol B. Muller, Ph.D.
Executive Director, MentorNet
1st Annual Federal Focus Ed-Mentor

September 27, 1999
Washington, D.C.


What is MentorNet? MentorNet is a national nonprofit program which links undergraduate and graduate women studying engineering and related sciences with professionals in industry for year-long structured mentoring relationships conducted via email. We have a mission to improve the status of women in society and contribute to positive change for women's study and work in science and engineering through a revolutionary online mentoring system. We want to increase the numbers of women graduating with engineering, science and math degrees and technology-supported mentoring by scientific and technical professionals in industry help meet this goal. The program complements the kinds of mentoring and education that students receive on their college campuses.

I think something really important to ask when any mentoring program is concerned is, "What are the goals? What is the mission? How are we going to measure the outcomes?"


What is the Problem?

Although women represent 46% of the U.S. work force, they are

  • less than 10% of the engineers
  • barely 30% of the scientists

These low numbers mean talent is being lost for the technical work force, and

Women are less likely to be involved in fast-growing, rewarding, and influential sectors of the economy


Mentoring: Part of the Solution

  • Mentoring is a proven strategy for retaining women in engineering and science
  • Not all students currently have access to mentors
  • Time and distance prevent more technical professionals from serving as mentors
  • An electronic mentoring network can link students with mentors in disparate locations, with minimum commitments of time.


Retention of women in engineering and related sciences through provision of:

  • Information
  • Support and encouragement
  • A sense that a real person cares about their success
  • An opportunity to explore and visualize the future

A trajectory which moves the student from dependence to independence.

Establishing best practices in e-mentoring.

So it is not a static experience throughout the mentoring time frame. Also, because e-mentoring, telementoring, cybermentoring, virtual mentoring - whatever name you put to it - is fairly new, we were very interested in how to establish best practices in e-mentoring.

One of the reasons I want to begin with answering the question, "What is mentoring?" is because I've noticed that mentoring is used a lot these days. I know we are all here because we think we know what mentoring is. Mentoring is used in all kinds of contexts, sometimes very casually. I am not interested necessarily in establishing a rigid definition of mentoring, and saying this is mentoring and that is not. I think there are many different forms. This makes it all the more important that we each establish what mentoring is in the context we are using it.


What is Mentoring?

  • Mentoring is the process by which an experienced person provides information, advice, support, and encouragement to a less experienced person. A mentor is a teacher or advisor who leads through guidance and example.
  • Differentiated from a role model.
  • Implies a relationship extending over time.

I differentiate this from a role model, who might be someone whom a student or a protégé sees from afar and with whom that student does not have an extended relationship. So, the implication exists of a relationship extending over time and some growth occurring because of it.

Some things are pretty straightforward. Email is a sort of stealth technology. It has been more widely adapted, more quickly than a whole lot of other technologies that are available.


What is E-Mentoring?

  • E-mentoring ("tele mentoring," "cybermentoring," or "virtual mentoring"): mentoring which uses the tools of electronic communications, either to extend and enhance a mentoring relationship, or to create one where it would not otherwise exist.


Why E-Mentoring?

  • Relatively easy, comfortable, and accessible mode of communication for regular computer users
    • Transcends geographical distance
      Asynchronous quality allows for minimal disruption of daily schedule
      Efficient: saves time, money, and logistics


Why E-Mentoring? continued

  • Ease of thoughtful, deliberate communication
  • Provides record of communication
  • Attenuation of status differences
  • Restricted channel of communication helps build relationships, especially for those who feel isolated
  • Builds on the Internet as a social technology which connects and affiliates people
  • What I want to suggest is that there is more to it than the obvious things mentioned in the list above. It has a form and a quality of communication all to itself. It is different from face-to-face and other forms of communication in many ways, but it is not always "less than." There are other less obvious reasons found in research:

    • The ease of thoughtful, deliberate communication. An individual can take time in composing a message, can edit the message, and really think about what he or she wants to say.
    • There is a record of communication that often does not exist with oral communication or face-to-face conversation.
    • There is attenuation of status differences. In our program, a freshman at a university can talk to a corporate executive without having to go through travel "downtown" to a ten-story building, or go through the secretaries and the security guards, or worry about what he or she is wearing. This applies in all kinds of settings, not just that example. It is much easier for someone in a lower position of status to talk to someone at a higher position of status.
    • The restricted channel of communication really helps build relationships because it feels and is reasonably private. Although, email is not confidential, and we have to be careful that participants in e-mentoring programs recognize that.
    • It builds on the Internet as a social technology which connects and affiliates people. This is something I am really interested in. There are a few researchers now looking at electronic communications, the Internet, and how they are affecting on a grand scale our daily lives and works.

    Structured Mentoring Programs

    I want to mention structured mentoring programs. These are usually created because naturally occurring or organic mentoring is not happening, not serving enough individuals, and/or most commonly serving only a particular group of individuals. One of the reasons we often have special structured programs for women or people of color is that the naturally occurring mentoring, tends to replicate those who are already involved in a certain profession or field. We tend to have white men mentoring white men. Not always, but that is the general trend. Consequently, these programs have been created so that the tacit knowledge and the informal interactions and the ways of doing work surrounding a profession or a field can all be communicated to everyone, not just to a specific cadre. These programs are typically designed to serve a target group. They require structure and staff; they are not without cost.

    We have a staff, and I have an expert in mentoring on my staff, but I have given thought to what are best practices for electronic mentoring programs. This is a work in progress. Roughly speaking, we are breaking the best practices down into these areas: planning and design, resource development, and matching/training/coaching/closure.

    You do not want to leave these mentoring relationships open-ended. People need to know:

    • how long they are expected to mentor,
    • what are expected outcomes, and
    • what are the opportunities for continuing beyond the end of the program.

    Mentoring relationships typically have a lifetime, whether or not you impose it. So, allowing people to recognize when this time has come and to gracefully exit the relationship or move on to another mentoring relationship is really important. And evaluation is really important. Leveraging and developing technology in support of all these aspects of structured mentoring programs is what e-mentoring is all about.

    However, people start electronic or other mentoring programs with very good intentions. If they do not think through the process, it will be very difficult to know:

    • Is the program worth investing in, worth supporting?
    • Will the outcomes be measurable?
    • Have we thought about what the outcomes will be? Mentoring creates all kinds of wonderful situations and scenarios, but you need to be able to define what you are trying to accomplish.
    • Who are the target populations?
    • Who are the stakeholders? All of these programs take resources. It may be that an organization has wonderful volunteers that can step up to the plate to do not only the mentoring, but also the program administration, the connecting, and the technical work supporting an e-mail program, etc. Those are your stakeholders in that case. In many other cases, you are looking at partnering with other organizations that have a specific interest in the outcomes of our programs. So, we need to know who they are, what resources they are willing to put behind this, what their expected outcomes are, the time frame for those outcomes, and what guidelines will govern the mentoring relationship. What will we tell prospective participants to help shape the program?

    You have to think ahead of time about resource development.

    SLIDE 8

    Resource Development

    • Knowledge of needs, culture, and communications of target populations, and technical expertise
    • Human resources - mentors, proteges, staff
    • Technology - access to internet for all participants, computer(s)/server, internet service, software, furnishings
    • Location
    • $ to support these resources, as needed

    When we developed the strategic planning for MentorNet, this was the exercise we went through. Developing a business plan, really, for how this would work. It is a nonprofit organization, but it still needs resources and funding.

    Thinking in terms of matching, what individual characteristics of the protégés and the mentors will make their mentoring relationships more likely to succeed. This is assuming a one-on-one program. Designing a process to include these criteria, whether it is allowing individuals to look at a pool in a database and sort through it, or engaging a person or computer program which actively matches people based on certain characteristics.

    We do know that the research on effective mentoring programs suggests that you are much more likely to have success if the mentors and protégés are actively engaged in selecting their partners and determining matches.

    SLIDE 9


    • Establishing and articulating program goals and guidelines
    • Setting expectations for the mentoring experience, and between mentor and protégé
    • Providing information and experience to guide participants, both protégés and mentors: e.g. suggested discussion topics, use of electronic communications, communicating across differences,

    Training, establishing and articulating program goals and guidelines, setting expectations for the mentoring experience between mentor and protégé, providing information and experience to guide the participants, this is all part of the training that is involved.

    In our program, we talked about the idea of coaching. Structured mentoring programs, whether electronic or otherwise, have found over and over again that it is extremely helpful, if you would like a high rate of success in these mentoring relationships, to do several things.

    SLIDE 10


    • Regular reminders to participants to communicate with their partners
    • Suggestions for communications content and process appropriate to program goals, and consistent with the development of a mentoring relationship
    • Reinforcement of training
    • Trouble-shooting

    I think we have to remember we are putting together something that is not organic. People are well-intentioned, but they do have busy schedules. The coaching also serves to connects them with the program, reinforce the training, other information and give them a personal affiliation with the program. It allows you to troubleshoot. If you do have ongoing contact with participants and they have a problem, they are much more likely to tell you about it than if you have just turned them loose, and they have to rummage around for your contact information from 6 months ago.

    I mentioned closure earlier. Establish a time frame and a process for concluding the structured mentoring relationship.

    SLIDE 11


    • Anticipate natural or configured points of closure, and establish a time frame for conclusion of the structured mentoring relationship.
    • Provide coaching to allow mentors and/or proteges to gracefully end the mentoring relationship.
    • Offer alternatives for continuing the relationship, without expectation that these will be appropriate for all participants.

    Evaluation, … this is not something you want to do, ideally, AFTER the end of the first year of the program. You want to think about this ahead of time so that you can measure what you have accomplished. You need to have a plan in place and know that it is one that will respond to the needs of the stakeholders.

    SLIDE 12


    • Establishing goals and outcomes
    • Identifying stakeholders and their interests
    • Establishing measure for outcomes
    • Planning and implementing formative and summative evaluation
    • Measuring results
    • Sharing findings

    Why would you create a large-scale national electronic mentoring program? A national program or a large-scale program, I might say, whether it is across several states or international, provides a richer and deeper pool of mentors and of students or protégés, allowing for better matches. You are transcending the limitations of spheres of influence and acquaintance of individual organizations. You can often get people thinking outside of local cultural boundaries. The economies of scale and operations. A lot of people could replicate the one-on-one mentoring network that we provide through MentorNet if they had unlimited resources that could be done on a campus-by-campus basis. But as long as we are putting the infrastructure together, it makes a lot more sense economically to do it across institutions. This, of course, does create a new organizational paradigm based on collaboration, which in some cases works well and in other cases you have to break down some preconceptions. Just to give you an idea, because we were talking about creating and sustaining a large-scale program, this is our plan for growth for our particular program:

    Year Zero we did what we called a "pilot semester." We began to get enough startup funding to justify the program in 1997. By the time we were staffed and had enough of our content on the web, it was early February of 1998. So we started a program that ran for a semester; and, we learned a tremendous amount about how to structure and shape the program from that experience. I think we started out from our business plan in 1996, we had a goal of 250 matched pairs for that year. We ended up with 204 - pretty close. Last year, the first full-year length of the program, which we called Year One because Year Zero was really a partial year, we had targeted 500 pairs, and we ended up with 539 matched pairs. This year we are expecting to double that to 1,000. We are right now in the middle of our matching processes, and that will not conclude until the end of October. So, what we did here in projecting numbers was to think about what seemed to be a reasonable growth trajectory, given the resources we had at our startup and what we thought we could develop with those resources. If we were able to get more resources, then we could probably ramp it up more quickly.

    We have a model in which we have participating campuses, and we are also building as part of our sustainability strategy a memberships program. We are trying to create a partnership among colleges and universities, professional societies, corporation and government sites, all working together to support this program. We were fortunate to have the College of Engineering at San José State University in California offer us a space for our startup. That got us over the hurdle of location. Each of these partners has representatives who work with us, designated liaisons, in a way. Their roles include:

    • Recruiting participants,
    • Providing funding and/or in-kind contributions, and
    • Providing advice, feedback and information, which ultimately drives their funding.

    This year we have 38 campuses involved in our program (they are listed on our website).

    The corporate partners that are working with us are interested in identifying and attracting the top technical talent available in the future workforce. This is something Jim mentioned at the lower level concerned about aspects of the future workforce. Knowledge that a diverse workforce leads to product development and customer service designed for an increasingly diverse customer base and support for an inclusive work environment that enhances productivity and impacts the bottom line, in terms of our particular target population. Those are the interests of our supporters.

    We have a new initiative coming up, the MentorNet 3C, The Community College Connection. That is a specialized addition to our program that will be blended into the program over a 3-year planning and implementation period.

    This year we have new funding, and that is part of our continuing plan. The idea is we have startup funds for 3 to 4 years. We develop a membership program over time that will allow us at a much lower level to have membership from the various organizational partners. We have not done this yet. We are thinking that over time, as students go through the program, graduate and get out into the workplace, they may be willing to help support it. I think all of us have agreed that even at the college level, this kind of program will not be sustained by fees from those who benefit most from it, the protégés. We are hoping to find an equilibrium here through these corporate memberships. Again, these are not the startup grants, but the membership at a sustaining level - $5,000 per year - which involves the corporation in a variety of ways. It gives them an affiliation with MentorNet, priority in having their employees matched with students, where there are appropriate matches. The university memberships, which are at this point by invitation because we have many more campuses that would like to participate than we can currently accommodate responsibly, are also contributing, though at a lower level, in recognition that we really are providing a service for their students, and something that would be difficult for them to duplicate at anywhere near that cost on their own individual campuses. We also have some professional societies that are interested in becoming involved in MentorNet. SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineers, is one of our first, setting up a model for this $5,000-per-year commitment.

    In terms of our own vision for the future, we expect that MentorNet represents a large and growing partnership among these different groups, with leadership provided from those groups on the board, that we would like to get to a point where any interested student could be paired with an industrial mentor via email. Over time we would hope to expand to serve a global population, reflecting a global economy, and using technology to transcend geographic distance and boundaries. We also are interested in our own organizational development, and in making sure that we continue to stay on top of the technology, the organizational efficiencies, and so forth. We do continually receive requests to extend this concept to other populations. We have initially steadfastly resisted those. It is very easy when you are trying to start an organization and you see an opportunity to say, "Oh, maybe we should veer off in this direction or that direction." We really felt we would be successful if we maintained our focus, got that program up and running with that target population, had an opportunity to evaluate it over several years so we really understood its value and got it stabilize in terms of finances before we moved on to a lot of other populations.

    SLIDE 13

    MentorNet: Industrial Mentoring

    • Most engineering and science graduates find employment in industry, but women in scientific & technical positions are proportionally less likely to be employed in industry than in public or nonprofit sectors.
    • Complements opportunities for on-campus mentoring by academic personnel.
    • Links students to potential employers, and employers to potential employees.
    • Non-judgmental mentors.
    • Information from industry increases retention.

    SLIDE 14

    A Growing Partnership

    • Colleges and Universities
    • Professional Societies
    • Corporations
    • Government

    Operations based in San José, California

    SLIDE 15 MentorNet: A Plan for Growth

    SLIDE 16

    MentorNet Partners

    Partnering Organization Volunteers:

    • Campus Representatives
    • Corporate Representatives
    • Professional Society Representatives
    • Government Site Representatives


    • Recruit participants
    • Provide funding and/or in-king contributions
    • Provide advice, feedback, information

    SLIDE 17

    MentorNet: A Growing Partnership
    Participating Campuses, 1999-2000 Arizona
    Harvey Mudd
    San Jose State
    Arizona State
    U. Southern Calif.
    UC - Davis
    Stevens Institute
    Texas A&M
    Cal Poly
    New Mexico
    Texas - Austin
    Carnegie Mellon
    NC A&T
    Virginia Tech
    Penn State
    Georgia Tech

    SLIDE 18

    Characteristics of MentorNet
    Corporate Partners

    • Interested in identifying and attracting the top technical talent available in the future work force
    • Knowledge that a diverse work force leads to product development and customer service designed for an increasingly diverse customer base, and
    • Understanding that an inclusive work environment enhances productivity, and thereby positively impacts the bottom line.

    SLIDE 19

    MentorNet Program Features

    • Mentoring lasts for one academic year at a time.
    • Weekly communications between mentor and protege.
    • Structured mentoring program, including matching, training, coaching and ongoing support, evaluation, and closure.
    • Research-based: mentoring, women in engineering and science, human-computer interface, pilot testing.
    • The web site - www.mentornet.net - provides on-line information, applications, and training materials.

    SLIDE 20

    Beyond One-on-One
    E-Mentoring: Other MentorNet
    Program Features

    • Monthly electronic newsletter
    • Topic- and theme-based electronic discussion groups (introduced 1999)
    • Small group mentoring option (new in '99-'00)
    • Resume database (new in '99-'00)

    SLIDE 21

    Recruiting Mentors

    Call for Mentors developed, available in paper, e-mail format, PDF files on web site

    Disseminated via:

    • Electronic mailing lists
    • Corporate & Professional Society contacts
    • Campus representatives to alumni/ae
    • Showcase, exhibits, presentations at meetings
    • "Cold" faxes to corporate HR, R&D offices

    SLIDE 22

    Recruiting Students

    • Campuses invited to participate
    • Campus representative selected by their institutions
    • Instructions sent to campus representatives; sample e-mail messages, PDF files available on the web site
    • Campus reps get word to students via e-mail, meetings, other networks

    SLIDE 23

    Matching Participants

    • Prospective participants complete web-based applications
    • Data automatically feeds into database
    • 3 rounds of matching (2 weeks apart)
    • Matching software sorts through database to find best matches; staff reviews
    • Individuals are sent e-mail with characteristics of partner, asked to approve
    • When both approve, pair is launched.

    SLIDE 24

    Matching Protocol

    Automated Matching Program matches pairs based on the following:

    • Pairs must have similar majors/fields.
    • Mentor must have an equal or greater college degree than student
    • Pairs are then matched based on similar Careers and Other Preferences from the application

    These matches are individually checked by us

    These final matches are then emailed out for approval from each person

    SLIDE 25

    MentorNet Training

    • Training for both students and mentors
    • Web-based content
    • Small group, moderated electronic discussions of case studies
    • Training delivered via regular e-mail "prompts" with hotlinks to training material
    • 2000: Interactive, web-based training curriculum

    SLIDE 26

    MentorNet Coaching

    Regular weekly "prompts" to undergraduate students, biweekly to mentors, graduate students accomplish 3 objectives:

    • Provide direct training content
    • Remind students/mentors to exchange email
    • Connect participants to the program, reminding them there is a person to contact if anything is awry with mentoring relationship

    Problem-solving, with campus rep, as needed

    End of year closure

    SLIDE 27

    MentorNet: The Start-Up Semester 1997-98

    Applicants: 280 students, 241 mentors

    15 participating universities

    93 companies represented by mentors

    Mentors by gender: 73% female, 27% male

    Students by degree programs

    • 73% undergraduates (39% fresh/soph; 34% juniors/seniors)
    • 8% masters
    • 19% PhDs

    Students by field of study:

    • 54% engineering
    • 18% computer sci./eng.
    • 8% chemistry
    • 7% bio- sciences/eng.
    • 5% math
    • 5% physics
    • 3% geology/environmental sciences

    SLIDE 28

    Lessons Learned from the Pilot Semester

    • Expectations for weekly communications make for stronger mentoring experiences
    • One semester is not long enough for a satisfactory mentoring relationship
    • Participants are more likely to be satisfied if they are matched first on academic/career interests.

    SLIDE 29

    Enhancements in 1998-99

    • Matching protocol revised, improved
    • Experimental on-line, small group, case study-based mentor training
    • Non-moderated, topic-based electronic discussion groups for all mentors and unmatched students

    SLIDE 30

    MentorNet, Year 1: 1998-99

    Applicants: 973 students, 693 mentors

    26 participating universities

    539 matched pairs; 515 remained by year-end (4% failure)

    261 companies represented by mentors

    Mentors by gender: 80% female, 20% male

    Students by degree programs:

    • 78% undergraduates (42% fresh/soph; 36% juniors/seniors)
    • 8% masters
    • 14% PhDs

    Students by field of study:

    • 55% engineering
    • 24% computer sci./eng.
    • 8% bio-sciences/biochem
    • 3% math
    • 3% physics
    • 2% chemistry
    • 2% geology/environmental sciences

    Fields of Mentors & Students

    Computer Science
    Computer Engineering
    Mechanical Engineering
    Chemical Engineering
    Biological Sciences
    General Engineering
    Materials Engineering
    Civil Engineering
    General Chemistry
    Environmental Engineering
    Aerospace Engineering
    Industrial Engineering
    General Biochemistry

    MentorNet Evaluation

    Ithaca Evaluation Group (1998 - )

    • Mid-year, year-end web-based questionnaires
    • Sample of volunteer, consented, confidential email monitoring

    Quality Evaluation Design (2000)

  • Long-term follow-up
  • Evaluation Process, 1998-99

    • Goal-oriented
    • Focus on student-mentor process
    • Midyear and year-end web-administered questionnaires
    • Email/telephone follow-up of nonrespondents
    • Unobtrusive, but consented, monitoring of all e-mail traffic among a random sample
    • Content evaluation of e-discussion lists

    Evaluation Findings, 1998-99
    Final questionnaire response rates:

    67.6% for mentors, 50.9% for students

    • Participants' assessments of their mentoring relationships are very positive
    • Email exchanges were more frequent earlier in the year
    • Frequency of email initiation is a significant predictor of overall mentoring success
    • Varied, though mostly positive, reactions to email prompts

    Participant Assessment of Aspects
    Mentoring Relationship
    Outcome Measure Student
    Comfort Asking Questions 4.45 4.32
    Comfort Answering Questions 4.55 4.64
    Interest in Staying in Major 4.31 n.a.
    Interest in Participating in MentorNet Next Year n.a. 4.20
    Interest in promoting MentorNet program n.a. 4.21
    Interest in working in industry 4.17 n.a.
    Confidence in one's own major/mentoring skills 3.49 3.70
    Overall quality of match 4.01 3.65

    Evaluation Findings, 1998-99

    For most conversational topics and other outcomes, there were no observed differences related to mentor gender

    Topics discussed by more than 75% of participants:

    • Backgrounds
    • Mentor's job
    • College life
    • Protege's career plans

    Evaluation Findings

    Content Themes

    • Impartiality
    • Personal relationship and encouragement
    • School matters and coursework
    • Job workplace and skills
    • Job hunting, future plans, and careers
    • Self-confidence

    What Students Have to Say

    "The MentorNet program has been extremely helpful to me. It has helped me form a ... network for myself ... to share information, encouragement, advice, and experiences ... about how to manage a career and a family, and how to work with others that do not respect women in science and engineering."

    1998 Student Participant

    "My mentoring relationship means being able to talk to a real professional and get the information I need to make me feel more comfortable about eventually obtaining a job in the professional world."

    - 1998 MentorNet student-protege

    "I was able to think clearly before asking and stuttering on the phone or in person. I could write rephrase my questions, in order to get the response/answer that I was looking for. Through e-mail, I feel no intimidation."

    - Student participant

    "I gained a great deal from this e-mentoring experience. For one, I think I learned to think more positively about myself and be more confident in my abilities. I learned that failure will happen, but you have to get up one more time than you get knocked down to succeed. Most importantly I've gained a true role model in my mentor. My mentor is the first female engineer I've met. She's everything I've aspired to be and more."

    - 1998-99 MentorNet student

    "I have a much better sense of what life is like after school for an engineer! (This is something neither of my parents could provide since they're not involved in this field.)"

    - 1998-99 MentorNet student

    "I felt very confused and unsure at the beginning of the program. Because I've had somebody to tell what it's like - to make it seem more possible, I feel more confident now."

    - 1998-99 MentorNet student

    "I learned about balancing an engineering career, while being a female (a mother and wife), which is very important to me."

    - 1998-99 MentorNet student

    "This reaffirmed my belief that I want to be an engineer. It helped me decide that working in industry would be good, and when I was feeling bad because of school or whatever, she gave me encouragement."

    - 1998-99 MentorNet student

    What Mentors Have to Say

    "I have subscribed to 2 discussion groups - balance and women's issues. I know the purpose of all this is to inform the students, but I can't tell you how helpful it is to hear how other female engineers deal with working and having a family. Just to know you are not alone is comforting."

    - 1998-99 MentorNet mentor

    "It's so rewarding, yet so painless."

    - Craig Montero, AT&T Network and Computing Services
    1998 MentorNet mentor

    "The MentorNet forms we filled out helped build rapport, because we both included our interests, outside of work and school..."

    - Jennifer Rexford, AT&T Labs, 1998
    1998-99 MentorNet mentor

    "I've always loved mentoring or tutoring .... Since I've had a full-time job, I don't seem to have the time to do that sort of thing. E-mail, however, is something I do have time for, since it removes all of the scheduling problems. And I've always felt that e-mail is a unique means of communication, well suited to this sort of thing. This program is perfect for me."

    - 1998-99 MentorNet mentor

    "I missed being able to draw a diagram or open a book together. I had to work a little harder in email. But that just made me explain things better. Email is very convenient, I can send it off in the middle of the night... I found it very rewarding - I'm sure I got as much out of it as she did."

    - Danielle Gallo, AT&T Labs
    1998 MentorNet instructor

    "Aki's updates on university life and her questions about my world was a breath of fresh air that made me stop and think and be more conscious of my world. Being a mentor reminded me to be more aware. Thanks for running a wonderful program!"

    - Sueling Cho, 1998-99 mentor
    Intel Corporation

    "In the end I was glad I was paired with a very junior student. We don't have much outreach for young women early on in their education, when they're making critical choices. It's great to help them calibrate what their expectations should be."

    - Jennifer Rexford, AT&T Labs
    1998 MentorNet mentor

    "The kind of support environment provided through MentorNet helps encourage young women to 'stay the course' working towards an engineering career, and is a simple, enjoyable, and rewarding way for people in industry to help attract talented women into the technical workforce."

    - Christine A. Riley, 1998, 1998-99 mentor
    Manager, End-User Driven Concepts
    Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, Oregon

    1999-2000 Program

    • Double the number of mentoring pairs to at least 1,000
    • Add 12 new campuses
    • Add small group mentoring as an option
    • Build resume database
    • Develop memberships program
    • Add long-term evaluation strategy
    • Plan extension of MentorNet to include community colleges

    A New Initiative for 2000-01
    MentorNet 3C: The Community College Connection

    • Approximately 1/3 of those earning bachelors degrees in engineering start their studies in 2-year colleges
    • Women are more likely than men to get started in 2-year colleges
    • The first two years of college are often critical in women's persistence in, or attrition from, science and engineering
    • Industrial e-mentoring could encourage many community college women to complete studies in science and technology

    Funded by the U.S. Department of Education

    MentorNet 4-Year Operating Budget
    FY98-01 Salaries/Benefits $150,801 $251,023 $439,975 $414,473 Materials & Supplies 4,517 5,000 7,500 7,875 Equipment 20,319 31,065 5,000 3,000 Evaluation 5,274 28,300 40,500 40,500 Dissemination 175 6,500 36,575 11,650 Travel 3,684 10,500 11,025 11,576 Advisory Board 5,072 6,000 6,300 6,615 Professional Development 6,590 3,000 8,000 4,000 Subtotal $196,432 $341,388 $554,875 $499,689 not including facilities, Indirect costs, or MentorNet 3C

    MentorNet Sponsors

      AT&T Foundation
      Intel Foundation
      Ford Motor Company
      Hewlett Packard
      U.S. Department of Education
      Los Alamos National Laboratory
      IEEE Foundation
      WEPAN (Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network)
      San Jose State University College of Engineering
      1185 Design
      and numerous participating colleges and universities

    MentorNet Growth: Milestones

    1995: Electronic Mentoring Program initiated as part of WISP at Dartmouth (AT&T)
    1996: Strategic planning begins for MentorNet (Sloan Foundation, Intel)
    1997: SJSU Engineering Dean Don Kirk offers office space; Intel Foundation awards WEPAN matching start-up matching grant; AT&T Foundation provides start-up grant

    MentorNet Growth: Milestones 1997: Staff hired, web site development begun; equipment (Intel)
    February 1998: Launch of pilot semester
    o Fall 1998: First full-year program; funding secured from U.S. Department of Education, AT&T, Intel, IBM, IEEE Foundation, SPIE, Hewlett Packard o Spring 1999: Memberships program begins

    MentorNet Growth: Milestones Fall 1999: 38 participating campuses for second full-year program
    1999: New funding from Ford Motor Company, Texaco, Los Alamos National Lab, and numerous colleges and universities; U.S. Department of Education funds three-year plan, development, and implementation of extending MentorNet to community/two-year colleges.

    MentorNet Sustainability Strategy

    • Start-Up Funds for 3-4 years to develop, implement, test, improve program
    • Develop membership program, adding 20 new corporate members annually
    • Develop alumnae relations program
    • Reach equilibrium which allows continuing growth of all members

    MentorNet Memberships Program

    Corporate Memberships:

    • $5,000/year
    • availability of employees to serve as mentors
    • designated representative to MentorNet
    • receive monthly reports on MentorNet progress
    • recognition on web site & in printed materials
    • annual report of evaluation and research findings
    • future: access to resume database, electronic announcements bulletin board, virtual job fair

    MentorNet Memberships Program

    University Memberships, by invitation:

    • $2,000/year; first year complimentary partial/full fee waiver requests considered
    • cost-effective program/service to students/alumni/ae
    • designated representative to MentorNet
    • links to public relations, career services, alumni/ae relations
    • annual report of evaluation and research findings

    MentorNet Memberships Program

    Professional Society Memberships:

    • $5,000/year
    • unlimited mentors
    • designated representative to MentorNet
    • receive monthly reports on MentorNet progress
    • (up to 100 student members may participate in MentorNet)

    MentorNet: A Vision for the Future

  • MentorNet represents a large and growing partnership among corporations, universities, and professional societies, with leadership provided by those organizations which are leaders in their industry and leaders in diversity.
  • Any interested student may be paired with an industrial mentor via e-mail.
  • MentorNet expands to serve a global population, reflecting the global economy and using technology well-equipped to transcend geographic distance and boundaries.
  • MentorNet: A Vision for the Future (continued)

  • MentorNet represents a fully-developed, fine-turned, but continuously learning organization, and a model for best practices in electronic mentoring.
  • After securing a sustainable infrastructure for its initial target population, MentorNet extends its strategies to related but new populations (possibilities: mentoring for minority students, pre-college youth, young professionals, college and graduate students in other pre-professional fields in which women are underrepresented, e.g. economics, business).
  • Other organizations focusing on different target populations model their e-mentoring programs after MentorNet.


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