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Get WiSE: Supporting 21st Century Learning
Skills in our
Women in Science and Engineering
Mentoring Program
Our Committee
Trudy Kavanagh
Senior Instructor, Earth & Environmental Science
and Physical Geography
Vania Chan
Technology Coordinator
e-Learning Instructional Support Specialist,
Centre for Teaching and Learning
Robin Whittall
Mentor Liaison
Career Advisor, Advising & Involvement Centre
Evelyn Jensen
Mentee Liaison & Fundraising Coordinator
PhD Student, Ecology & Conservation Genomics
Stephanie McKeown
Program Evaluation Consultant
Director, Planning and Institutional Research
Samira Yassin
Work Study Student - Committee Projects
Hannah Harrison
Work Study Student - Research Support
Renee Leboe
Program Coordinator for Engineering Students
Engineering Advisor, School of Engineering
Initiating the WiSE Program
• Women are a minority within STEM occupations in
North America
• Women do not persist as long as men in STEM
• Mentoring provides key support for people entering
fields of work and staying in those fields
• In 2006, we started a series of annual Women in
Science workshops, initially under support from the
Jade Foundation.
• We wanted to do more.
Graduating Competitive Employees
The concept of soft skills as part of students’ learning objectives:
A survey by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives of
Canada’s top employers concluded that for entry-level
employees to compete effectively in the 21st Century labour
market, they must demonstrate not only academic competency,
but more importantly, they must possess people skills,
communication skills, problem-solving skills, analytical abilities
and leadership skills.
November 28, 2013
Goals of the Mentoring Program
1. To raise students’ awareness about the issues faced
by women with careers in science and engineering.
2. To provide students with tools, strategies and
confidence to enable them to succeed in their
future careers in science and engineering.
o building skills in communication, networking, and
o supporting academic success
o exploring different career options
Structure of the Mentoring Program
• A tri-mentoring framework:
• Professional from industry/ grad student
• Senior student
• Junior student
• A prospective longitudinal research study
Our program participants:
24 Sci
10 Sci
13 Eng
27 Sci
5 Eng
8 Eng
35 Sci
5 Eng
12 Sci
5 Eng
13 Sci
8 Eng
Fall Activities
Applications from students and mentors
September: Info session for interested students
Orientation for successful applicants
Fall Activities
Mentor/mentee introduction session
Mentor/mentee workshop
• Setting goals
• Mock interviews
• Resume reviews
Winter Activities
January: Professional development event
• Imposter syndrome
• Your digital footprint
• An assertive approach to negotiation
Winter Activities
March: WiSE workshops open to all female students
(optional for mentees)
• Get the job
• Keep the job, get a life
April: Year-End Celebration
WiSE Online
Monthly emailed themes with article links (new for 2013-14)
--October: goal-setting
--November: communication
--December: networking (using holiday parties to practice)
--January: self-confidence (imposter syndrome)
--February: dealing with conflict
--Mar.ch: work-life balance
--April: networking revisited
Website: wise.ok.ubc.ca
How do we assess the WiSE program?
Prospective Longitudinal Study
• information gathered from:
• pre-and post-program surveys
• student focus groups (January-February)
• mentor interviews (February)
• student reflection assignments
Findings thus far
• Triad is the best structure for the mentoring groups
• Mentees felt that they received valuable personal
support from their mentors
• Most mentees felt career path was reinforced as a
result of their participation in WiSE
• Most mentees gained confidence to pursue their
career and academic goals through their mentor
Findings thus far
Effective mentor pairing:
• Industry mentors paired with students wanting
information about career transitions
• Graduate students for those students wishing to
transition into further academic studies
• Personal similarities
Findings thus far
• Important to provide guidance for first time mentors
and mentees
• Meetings based on interactive panel discussion
were valued by both mentees and mentors
• Scheduling tends to be a common barrier in the
establishment of a successful mentoring relationship
Lessons Learned
• Changed aspects of the program
• Mentees in years 2+
• Proper triad structure is important
• Students prefer industry mentors unless they wish to
go to graduate school
Quotes from Mentees
“She gave me the strength to try things or talk to
people that I normally wouldn’t talk to and kind of go
out of my comfort zone and I knew she had my back
if I failed or if something went wrong”
“I feel like its really opened my eyes to a lot of things
that I didn’t know were even possible before so I’m
very, very thankful for that”
Quotes from Mentees
“I find every time I finish a meeting [with my mentor] I
feel like I go away knowing ten times more than I did
when I came in, whether it be little things about jobs
or something larger like you can do a masters here
are the programs.”
“It’s a really inspiring program. It was really nice to
have people from different positions and areas,
especially industrial and academic areas.”
Quotes from Mentees
“As an engineer I have a handful of tutorials or classes
where I’m the only woman so I find it really special to
be in a room with only girls - that is really nice.”
Quotes from Mentors
“I enjoy meeting girls that are interested in
succeeding and getting out there and even
afterwards keeping in touch… it’s interesting to see
where they go from here”
- Mentor who has been in the program for multiple years
Quotes from Mentors
"I find that I frequently refer to the benefits of this
program when I collaborate with colleagues and, in
fact, I have recommended the program to two
women in my friendship circle.“
"I'm just so blessed to be in the mentoring program
and then to have these two ladies, they are just
great, I think the world about them"
Next Steps
Adapt VALUE Rubrics
• Integrative Learning
• Make connections to experience and to the
• Ability to transfer knowledge and skills to new
• Civic Engagement
• Adjust to understanding their professional
communities and cultures, identify with professional
networks and develop effective communication
WiSE supports students learning about the nonacademic “soft skills” required to compete successfully
in their transition from school to working life. We help
our students gain experiences and connections in the
community beyond campus.
Our longitudinal study appears to be unique, so we
look forward to further analysis of these data to help
others who are planning mentoring programs.
Thank you to our supporters
• I.K. Barber School of Arts & Sciences
• School of Engineering
• Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal
• Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor
and Principal
• UBC Equity Office
1. Do you have suggestions for topics that would be
useful for our mentoring programming?
2. What other ways can we address 21st century
learning skills?
3. Is there anyone here who is planning to start a
structured mentoring program on campus?

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