The nested mentors program pairs women employees within 3M and surrounding educators in MN to launch an innovative nested mentoring model for women and girls in STEM. This project seeks to explicitly meet the challenges of encouraging girls to pursue STEM through a unique nested mentoring model that promotes the concept of gender diversity in STEM through strong women role models. 3M invites women employees as STEM mentors of women undergraduate STEM students, who will in turn serve as mentors to middle and high school students (boys and girls) to generate an amplifier effect. Importantly, this innovative 3M program will connect people along all stages (from grades 6 to 12, to undergraduates, to working professionals) to promote a sense of agency, to inspire, and to support diversity in STEM-related identity development.
At the heart of this effort is the need to address diversity in STEM professions — specifically gender-based under-representation and inequity caused by unconscious bias. Narrowly defined and often unacknowledged ideas and cultural schemas for who STEM professionals are (and how they got there) can negatively impact the ability of girls and women to develop and maintain strong STEM-related identities and make pro-STEM life choices. This challenge is reflected in problems of recruiting, retaining, and advancing girls and women in their STEM career trajectories from grade school through senior professional levels.
Each 3M employee will serve as a mentor to three undergraduate women STEM majors. These undergraduates will each in turn work with three middle and high school educators and their students. Both the undergraduate students and middle / high school educators will be recruited through our collaborations with STEMLink, UMN, and local school districts.
3M Mentors training includes a participant workshop to prepare each stakeholder for their roles. These workshops will include training in unconscious bias, experiential learning theory, and STEM identity development as well as guidance for the specific roles and responsibilities of each participant in collaboration with their partners. 3M employees will host their undergraduate mentees on site for a day of work shadowing, project planning, and interviews. This site visit will accomplish several things: Expose the undergraduates to the realities of a working STEM environment and women STEM professionals; Establish the interpersonal relationship with 3M employees to make future online interactions more productive and meaningful; Provide materials for undergraduates to help construct their mentoring narratives to share with middle/high school students, and connect undergraduates with each other for collaboration (in groups of 3 for each 3M employee). In addition, 3M mentors will continue to advise mentees as they work with K-12 students and educators. This can be done online or in person.
3M Mentors will be required to attend the following 2 one-hour workshops:
3M Mentors will also be required to host a day of “work shadow” for up to 3 undergraduate students (this will be done in one day not 3 separate days). There is an optional participation in virtual or in-person classroom visits for middle school/high school visits. Mentees will be mentoring inside middle school and high school classrooms as part of their time commitment, you can choose to participate in this additional mentorship but it is not required. It will be based on your relationship with your undergraduate mentee and your availability.
The STEM undergraduate mentor time commitment includes the following 2 one-hour workshops:
The K-12 educator time commitment includes the following 3 one-hour workshops: