The WiSE Mentoring Program for women in science and engineering is being revamped to make it more accessible and to keep more students involved.
The program was originally created to provide one-on-one guidance for female first-years from upperclassmen. Next year, however, two or three science or engineering concentrators will lead groups of 10–12 first-years, said Science Program Coordinator
Jodie Gill, who oversees WiSE. Mentors, who in the past have not received formal training, will attend a one-day session during the summer.
Gill wants to model the new structure after the Meiklejohn peer-advising program.
"I think (the group structure) will take the pressure off a one-on-one relationship," Gill said. "It might be easier for three mentors to bounce ideas off each other, and the mentees will feel more comfortable asking questions in a group."
The new structure will also allow for more flexibility for first-years whose interests change during the school year.
"Someone may sign up who is interested in (chemistry), and we will match them with a chemistry concentrator, but then they may change their mind and decide they are interested in geology, and their mentor will not have the resources to help them," said Program Coordinator Katie Roberts '10.
The coordinators are also instating an application process for next year's mentors to make sure they stay committed to the program, Gill said.
"We found that, over a month or two, that mentees lose interest or the mentor is overcome with other responsibilities," Gill said. There will be about 30 mentors next year, she added.
Roberts said that next year the coordinators will schedule mandatory monthly meetings but will leave it up to the groups to decide if they want to meet one-on-one. They are also continuing the discussion series, during which a faculty member leads a discussion about their research or on the issues women face in the fields of science and math.
One thing the group wants to maintain is the strong connection between the mentors and the mentees.
"One fear I have is that we'll lose the level of personal contact if we don't meet one-on-one," Roberts said. "But we feel that the groups will still have that feeling even though it's a larger group than before."