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Title: Continuation and Enhancement of the MPOWIR Program

MPOWIR is a community-based program that provides mentoring to physical oceanographers from late graduate school through early careers. The overall goal of MPOWIR is to make mentoring opportunities for junior physical oceanographers universally available and of higher quality by expanding the reach of mentoring opportunities beyond individual home institutions. The aim is to reduce the barriers to career development for all junior scientists in the field, with a particular focus on improving the retention of junior women. Over the past five years MPOWIR has expanded significantly. This funding cycle saw the development and enhancement of MPOWIR’s programs and outreach opportunities. MPOWIR’s main programmatic offerings are: mentor groups, a biannual conference, a website and blog, and town hall meetings at national events. Since 2009, MPOWIR has hosted 15 mentor groups, three Pattullo conferences, and created a website that has attracted over 50,000 visitors. MPOWIR’s mentoring groups and Pattullo conferences have reached more than 130 unique participants. Mentor Groups Mentor groups were established in the fall of 2008, and continue to gain momentum after 5 years. Since 2009, 11 groups have formed, with participants mainly, but not exclusively, drawn from Pattullo attendees. To gauge the impact of mentor groups, participants are surveyedmore » approximately annually. Based on an extensive 2011 survey, 100% of mentoring group participants reported that they made progress on their stated scientific, professional, and personal goals. As part of these surveys, participants are asked what they value about their mentoring group, what the benefit of the mentoring group is to their current position, and they are asked questions about the logistics and setup of the groups. Based on the survey conducted in 2012, all participants rated participation in these groups a valuable experience, with particular value placed on feedback on professional development (100% Excellent to Good) and feedback on personal matters (92% Excellent to Good). Pattullo Conferences The centerpiece of the MPOWIR program is the Pattullo Conference, named for June Pattullo, the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in physical oceanography. At each event, the agenda includes research talks, professional development sessions, small group activities, and a question-and-answer session about early-career and retention issues posed by junior scientists to senior researchers. Pattullo Conference participants are surveyed after each conference about their experience. This survey asks participants to rate their opinion on specific topics and invites comments. Combining results from three conferences, 99% of junior participants would recommend the conference to another junior scientist. Of the junior participants, 92% rated the conference as “extremely valuable” overall, with a particular value placed on networking and professional development opportunities. Overall Impact To gain a better perspective on the success of MPOWIR to date, early participants were surveyed in 2013 about their current position, and the impact of MPOWIR on their career path. Individuals were asked to rank the extent to which MPOWIR had impacted various aspects of their professional growth. These aspects included efforts to obtain their current position; exposure to professional development skills; broadening of their professional network; mentoring on work and family balance; performance in current position; and raising awareness of mentoring in career development. Participants overwhelming indicated that MPOWIR had positively impacted all of these aspects. In particular, 95% of respondents expressed that MPOWIR exposed them to useful professional development skills “to a great extent” and 89% consider MPOWIR to have positively impacted their professional network “to a great extent”. Of those surveyed, the majority of participants were 2 years from their Ph.D. at the time of initial involvement. Their current job positions are well distributed over all post-Ph.D. categories: the greatest percentages of positions held are at research institutions (non-academic) or government agencies (29.3%), followed closely by non-faculty research positions at universities (27.6%) and faculty at research universities (22.4%). The remaining positions held (4-year college faculty, profit or not-for-profit company, policy, and graduate students) collectively total 19%. These initial indications point toward mentoring, as offered by MPOWIR, as an effective means for improving retention of women in physical oceanography.« less
  1. Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Project Outcome Report for NSF--funded project OCE-0926241
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
58 GEOSCIENCES mentoring; women; physical oceanography