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Evolution of a Cross-year Mentoring Scheme

Cornelia Boldyreff, Elizabeth Marie Massey

Abstract


In a university department where less than seven percent of the students and staff are women, a sense of isolation can have a detrimental effect on the progression and retention of those female students.  To address issues of isolation, progression, and retention the University of Lincoln's Department of Computing and Informatics (DCI) began a cross-year mentoring scheme in 2005 and has tracked the progress and the changes that this scheme has brought about over the past two years.  Key issues addressed include better support for women students to ensure they successfully complete their studies and progress to successful careers in Computing; raising awareness of the predominantly male staff in the department regarding the impacts on female student retention; raising awareness university-wide about the support provided to female students and transferring the knowledge gained across the university to other departments.  The cross-year mentoring scheme for DCI women students has resulted in a dramatic increase in female student retention.  A 2004 census of students showed that only 25% of female students progressed into their 3rd academic year.  However, in 2006 100% of female students advanced into their 3rd year class.  The mentoring scheme initially focused on students from the year above mentoring students in the year below, and now continues by promoting post-graduate students as mentors. 


Keywords


mentoring, social networks, lessons learned

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