Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 31 Issue 04

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Volume 31, No. 4
Pages 171 - 179


Meeting Mentoring Needs in Physical Oceanography: An Evaluation of the Impact of MPOWIR

Colleen B. Mouw Sarah ClemSonya LeggJean Stockard
Article Abstract

After a decade of program offerings, the Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention (MPOWIR) program initiated a community-wide survey to (1) assess the impact MPOWIR has had on retention of women in the field of physical oceanography, and (2) gauge where needs are being met and where gaps still exist. To investigate the impact of MPOWIR, we compare MPOWIR participants with male and female cohorts that did not participate in MPOWIR but were at a similar career stage. The survey results indicate MPOWIR has had a substantial impact by aiding individuals in finding and developing mentoring relationships. MPOWIR women are far more likely to have a mentor, and they report having mentors in addition to their advisors, indicating proactive seeking of mentoring relationships. Survey results identify many unmet mentoring needs for both men and women, but MPOWIR participants appear to be receiving more from their mentoring relationships than their non-MPOWIR cohorts. The majority of survey respondents reported there were challenges to achieving career goals, but MPOWIR participants were significantly more likely to have attained their career goals, even though they had received their PhDs more recently. Eighty-eight percent of survey respondents with PhDs were employed in oceanography, irrespective of participation in MPOWIR. MPOWIR women indicate the program has had a large impact on their lives, with the greatest effect being expansion of professional networks and exposure to professional development skills. Senior participants in the program (who serve as mentors to junior scientists) also reported significant professional and personal growth from being involved. Data obtained independently of the survey show that, of the 173 women who have participated in MPOWIR, the recent PhDs are predominantly in postdoctoral positions as expected, but for participants receiving their PhDs prior to 2012, an impressive 80% are in faculty or university/government/nonprofit research positions. Thus, MPOWIR appears to have had an important impact on retention and career satisfaction of its participants.


Mouw, C.B., S. Clem, S. Legg, and J. Stockard. 2018. Meeting mentoring needs in physical oceanography: An evaluation of the impact of MPOWIR. Oceanography 31(4):171–179, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2018.405.

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