Mentorship in STEM Higher Education

Effective mentorship in higher education begins at the institutional level. Institutional cultures that value mentorship and create conditions for students, faculty, and staff to thrive have the power to cultivate inclusive and sustainable STEM communities.

Karalis Noel et al. (2021, 2022) discussed STEM postdoc mentorship as a shared responsibility and dynamic process that necessitates a mutual commitment between the faculty mentor and postdoc. Their instrumental case study investigated how 31 minoritized STEM postdocs perceived and engaged in mentoring exchanges with their faculty mentors.

The findings offered implications for cultivating supportive and sustainable scholarly communities in STEM higher education such as:

  • encouraging higher education systems and institutions to provide PIs with incentives (e.g., stipends, technology updates, excellence awards, extra professional development opportunities, course or service releases, extra vacation days) to invest in professional development (Karalis Noel et al., 2021, 2022);
  • implementing 360-degree evaluations of PIs and continuous evaluations of laboratory environments to promote creativity and diversity (Hynes & Mickahail, 2018);
  • curating and disseminating resources for evidence-based career and professional development models (Bixenmann et al., 2020 as cited in Karalis Noel et al., 2021, 2022);
  • broadening and deepening evidence for effective career and professional development training and mentoring (Bixenmann et al., 2020 as cited in Karalis Noel et al., 2021, 2022);
  • improving communication within and across stakeholders in STEM PhD education (Bixenmann et al., 2020 as cited in Karalis Noel et al., 2021, 2022);
  • clarifying definitions and expectations for STEM PhD career and professional development (Bixenmann et al., 2020 as cited in Karalis Noel et al., 2021, 2022); and
  • mandating stakeholder mentorship training, establishing affinity spaces, and fostering opportunities to build allyship and eliminate bias, stereotype threat, and microaggressions in the community.

Read the full articles:

Karalis Noel, T., Miles, M., & Rida, P. (2021). Using social exchange theory to examine minoritized STEM postdocs’ experiences with faculty mentoring relationships. Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, 13(1), 90-108.

Karalis Noel, T., Miles, M. L., Rida, P. (2022). Stressed-out of STEM: examining mentoring experiences of women, people of color, and international postdocs. Educational Studies, 58(4), 435-457.

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