Women Mentoring Women
The purpose of Caltech’s Women Mentoring Women (WMW) program is to provide support for women students as they negotiate their academic, professional, and personal development.
- For graduate students: The WMW graduate program matches postdoctoral scholars with upper-level graduate women and upper-level graduate women with first-year graduate women for a one-to-one mentoring experience.
- For undergraduate students: students will pair first- and second-year undergraduate women and upper-class undergraduate women for a one-to-one mentoring experience. In addition undergraduates can request to have a Caltech staff member or a graduate student as a mentor.
Each mentoring match meets over a one-year period—some meet monthly, others bi-weekly. The program offers academic and professional development workshops and discussions, as well as social and networking opportunities throughout the academic year. Matches receive coffee stipends and other resource materials.
We accept applications throughout the year. It's never too late to apply!
1. What's involved in the Women Mentoring Women program?
- The Match: The foundation of WMW is the individual, one-to-one connection that is fostered between mentor and mentee. These individual mentoring meetings are where the matches discuss academic, professional, and personal issues; set and work toward goals; problem-solve; and celebrate successes. Matches are required to meet at least once a month. As a bonus, WMW provides a small coffee stipend to help matches defray the cost of meetings!
- The Support: In addition, monthly group mentoring opportunities, such as presentations by faculty and panel presentations support the one-to-one mentoring.
- The Community: Past participants often say that one of the best parts of the WMW program is the community of women. The program provides plenty of opportunities and social & networking opportunities to meet and get to know other women on campus.
- The Resources: Participants are able to participate in a private listserv – complete with topical discussions and resources. Also, mentors and mentees can share and receive articles and other resources to help support their professional development.
2. How can I get involved in WMW?
There are a few different ways to participate in the program:
- As a mentee: Students are matched with an upper-level student mentor.
- As a mentor and/or mentee: Upper-level graduate students (2nd year and beyond) are matched as a mentee with a postdoctoral scholar OR as a mentor with a first-year student OR both! Upper-level undergraduate student, graduate student, or staff mentors are paired with a first- or second-year undergraduate student mentee.
3. How much of a time commitment is this program?
While matches are encouraged to meet at least once a month in order to foster a strong mentoring relationship, the time commitment involved is entirely up to you. Attendance at socials/networking events and academic & professional development programs is optional.
4. I am a new postdoc at Caltech and would like to be involved in this program. However, I don't know much about Caltech to sufficiently mentor a grad student and help her navigate her way around Caltech. Can I still participate?
Absolutely! No prior Caltech experience is required to participate in this program. The most important component to mentoring is the connections made. You have enough background and experience to share with a graduate student what it's like to be a woman in science and engineering. Your contributions are invaluable! Plus, connecting with an upper-class graduate woman will help you become more familiar with Caltech, so think of the match as a symbiotic relationship.
5. What do past participants have to say about the program?
- "This program is amazing! If only I had had access to this type of program during my graduate years. I think this program is vital to helping women be successful in their graduate years and for helping postdocs prepare for the next step. Openly discussing issues that women deal with leads to a greater understanding that we do not face these issues alone, and that there are great opportunities for women in science."
- "My relationships with both my mentor and my mentees are great. They are definitely people that I will stay in touch with after the program is over."
- "It is great -- to talk with people who have had similar experiences to you or to what you might want in the future is really helpful to mentees. As a mentor, I appreciated the opportunity to practice being a mentor, listening, and getting to share my experiences, positive and negative."
- "I really enjoyed being able to participate in this program."
- "My mentee knew that I would be confidential and nonjudgmental, so I think she felt comfortable to tell me about any worries or frustrations that sometimes first years have trouble talking to each other about."
- "My mentor had great advice and a positive attitude. She was honest about her experiences and offered insight."
6. How do I apply?
Mentors: please submit your online application so that we can create a website of mentors for mentees to be able to scroll through and get to know you http://diversitycenter.caltech.edu/women/mentoring/mentorform.
Mentees: Please fill out an online application: wmw20162017mentee Or in html https://caltech.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7a13Asxbz1Yoexv
7. What is the Women's Engagement Board?
The Women's Engagement Board (WEB) provides direction, guidance, and support Women's programming across campus for students, staff, faculty, and postdocs. The new engagement board will serve as an important liaison between the Diversity Center and the Caltech community.
The Women's Engagement board includes representatives from the Center for Diversity, Postdoctoral Scholar Services, Staff and Faculty Consultation Center, as well as graduate students, undergraduate students and postdocs from various options.
Your first meeting is a time to begin the process of getting to know one another. Here are some things you should be prepared to discuss:
- First Meeting Checklist - key things to discuss when you first meet with your mentor and/or mentee
- Confidentiality Agreement - an agreement to be signed by both mentor and mentee
Here are some resources from past Women Mentoring Women workshops:
- "Do Babies Matter in Science?" presentation by Dr. Mary Ann Mason
- "Staying Competitive: Patching America's Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences" from the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security
- "Choosing (and Surviving) Your Advisor: Advice and Resources from the Women Mentoring Women Program" handout
- Fermilab Colloquium Lecture: "Women and the Future of Physics" by Howard Georgi
- Association of Women in Science (AWIS)
- Science NextWav
- Mentoring for Women in Engineering
- Career Development Center at Caltech
You are encouraged to discuss any concerns you may have about your mentoring experience with Erin-Kate Escobar (firstname.lastname@example.org) or other members of the Women's Engagement Board. We will maintain confidentiality unless a breach of confidentiality is necessary to maintain someone's personal safety.
9. Whom may I contact with more questions?
Contact Erin-Kate Escobar for more information or if you're interested in getting involved in WMW.