Dr. Angela Byars-Winston Leads National Committee Behind New NASEM Report on Diversity and Inclusion in Mentoring STEMM Students

report recently released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recommends that U.S. colleges and universities take a more intentional, inclusive, and evidence-based approach to mentoring students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) – a shift that could engage and help retain a broader group of students in these fields.

Angela Byars-Winston, PhD, professor, General Internal Medicine, director of research and evaluation in the UW Center for Women’s Health Research, associate director in the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, and an investigator with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research's Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research, led the national committee that developed the report. 

Effective mentoring relationships have an overall positive effect on academic achievement, retention, and degree attainment, as well as on career success and satisfaction, the report says. Mentored students pursue graduate study more frequently than students without mentoring support and are more likely to stay in STEMM.

Mentorship can also increase access, equity, and inclusion in STEMM. Studies have shown, for example, that effective mentorship for students from underrepresented groups enhances their recruitment into and retention in research-related career paths.

Despite its importance, mentorship rarely receives the focused attention, evaluation, and recognition given to other aspects of professional development such as teaching and research, the report says.  With few exceptions, the nation’s academic institutions have largely left mentorship to happen organically or on an ad hoc basis. Moreover, studies report that STEMM students from underrepresented groups typically receive less mentorship than their peers in well-represented groups.

“There is a gap between what we know about effective mentoring and how it is practiced in our nation’s colleges and universities,” Dr. Byars-Winston said. “A growing body of evidence exists about how to create and sustain successful, inclusive mentoring relationships. We hope that our report can catalyze institutions’ use of that evidence to create affirming environments and more effectively foster the talents of all of their students.”

The report was released along with an online interactive guide to support institutions, departments, and faculty members in implementing the report’s recommendations.