Research mentorship for undergraduate women
The gender gap in STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) fields is closing, but progress is slow. Retention of undergraduate women in STEM fields has been shown to be positively influenced by both experience in research early in one's career and by the presence of female academic role models. In fact, the presence of female graduate students has a stronger impact than the presence of female faculty members. This places a responsibility on the female graduate students to maximize our relationships with female undergraduates!
In addition to mentoring undergraduates and graduate students in the lab, I was extremely lucky to be selected to participate in the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning's Principles and Practice in Mentorship Initiative at Brown from 2013-2014. Along with fellow Ph.D. student Ceyda Sayali, I worked closely with a group of four outstanding sophomore women to develop their interest in research as well as a skill set that they can use to pursue research in the brain sciences in the future. Ceyda and I also participated in monthly talks from extraordinary faculty mentors at Brown in addition to workshops with peer research mentors, to reflect on our performance and brainstorm mentorship strategies.
We also developed a set of seminars to advance the professional development of undergraduate women in the sciences, especially experimental psychology and neuroscience. These seminars culminated in a research fair (pictured) at which students can meet research assistants and graduate students from labs all over the department, to make contacts in case they are interested in getting involved in research.
Graduate women in science and engineering at Brown
I was also fortunate to be a member of the Brown Graduate Women in Science and Engineering group. We were paired with members of the AP Biology class at Lincoln High School in Providence, RI, an all-girls school. I acted as a mentor for gifted young women who were interested in careers in science. The girls prepared a "Scientist Fair" at which they presented their mentors' research and learned about the academic and career paths that are available to women in STEM fields.