Research indicates that when young women in high school contemplate careers in engineering or computing, they often experience tensions, conflicts, and feelings of isolation. Validation and career advice for girls making such decisions are rarely available in traditional educational settings. To provide them with ongoing guidance and support, CCT developed Internet-based telementoring environments that link female high school students with women professionals in science and technical fields.
Support can take many forms. The Telementoring project developed a number of online communications formats to support different 'clusters' of participants: students, telementors, teachers, and parents. These formats include:
- One-on-One Mentoring, which uses private email to individually link students with experienced professionals who can provide useful strategies for overcoming obstacles and fears as well as share expert knowledge and sound career advice
- Discussion Forums, which link high school girls in large group discussions moderated by mentors and focused on topics such as the balance of family and work, self-image and self-confidence, career opportunities and options, and strategies for making decisions about college
- Peer Lounges, online conversation spaces that prepare students, mentors, and teachers for participation in the project
- Resources, a website of project information and materials, current research, college and career information, and other information sources.
Telementoring was piloted locally and implemented nationally through the Department of Energy's Adventures in Supercomputing (AiS) program. AiS provided high schools serving a range of ethnically and economically diverse students with computers and telecommunications technologies to cultivate the interests of these students, particularly young women, in science, mathematics, and computing.
Reaction to Telementoring was very positive. Students found that online environments invite them to discuss a broad range of topics that help them make decisions about their lives after high school. Mentors reported that Telementoring provides a means to reach out to young women and their colleagues, something they were unable to do before in the context of their professional lives.
Project Website: http://violet.edc.org/CCT/telementoring/