Dennehy & Dasgupta, 2017: Being paired with female mentors sustained levels of belonging and self-efficacy, and increased rates of retention and aspirations in engineering majors among female engineering undergraduates over two years
Incoming female undergraduate engineering students were randomized to a male peer mentor, a female peer mentor, or no mentor. Mentors and mentees met monthly for a year. Women who had a female mentor, as compared to both comparison conditions, showed sustained rather than declining levels of belonging and self-efficacy in engineering and postcollege engineering aspirations, as well as sustained low rather than rising levels of threat relative to challenge over the first year. At the end of this year, they had higher rates of retention in engineering majors (100% vs. 82% with male mentors and 89% without mentors). At the end of the second year, a year after the mentoring program had ended, women who had had a female mentor during the first year showed sustained levels of belonging and postcollege engineering aspirations, as compared to continuing declines for women who had had male mentors or no mentor. In contrast to these findings, over the two-year period, women with male mentors showed stable engineering GPAs, whereas those with female or no mentor showed declines. However, whereas women’s feelings of belonging and self-efficacy predicted retention and career aspirations in engineering, GPA did not.