Mentor Groups

Purpose and Background: Groups consist of 6-7 junior women and 2 senior facilitators.  The groups are intended to provide peer and traditional mentoring.  Each group meets monthly via conference call for approximately 1-2 hours depending on group preferences.  The objectives are to help junior women make networking connections, to offer coaching, advice and strategies for professional success, and to share the experiences of both senior scientists and peers.

To ensure that the mentor groups offer an immediate tangible benefit to participants, junior women are asked to formulate specific goals that they wish to work toward during the coming year.  Prior to the first meeting of the group, each member and mentor group leader receives a notebook containing the biography and goals for each participant.  These goals, along with other topical issues, are discussed during the mentor group calls.

Joining: To join a mentor group, mentees must be female physical oceanographers in the last year of a U.S. PhD program (within 1 year of completing the dissertation), or in a postdoctoral position, or in a permanent position for no more than two years. Participation is open to pursuit of all career tracks, which is broadly defined as ‘utilizing skills gained in your PhD’.  MPOWIR considers group membership and participation to be confidential, and will work to ensure mentor leaders come from separate institutions from participants as much as is possible.

To better meet the needs of the Physical Oceanography community, MPOWIR is piloting mentor groups with a particular focus.  At this point, there is expressed interest in a group to facilitate LGBTQ issues, and groups that meet at unconventional times (ie in the evenings or on weekends) to better facilitate work schedules. We are open to exploring other opportunities, and welcome suggestions. These options, and your suggestions, can be emailed to or entered when registering for a group.

Unjoining: The mentor group commitment is for two years.  After two years, each group member may choose to remain in her current group if it continues, switch to another group, or leave mentor groups altogether.  Continued peer-to-peer mentoring is highly encouraged and MPOWIR will provide support to any group that wishes to meet without their group leaders.  Mentees may leave the group before two years at their own discretion.

Privacy/Problems: Membership in the groups, with the exception of the leaders is confidential. Topics discussed in mentoring group meetings must remain confidential unless all participants specifically agree to an outreach action.  Failure by participant or leader to maintain confidentiality will result in immediate expulsion from the groups. Problems that cannot be resolved within a group should be brought to the attention of the logistic coordinator, Sarah Clem (

Special Circumstances: Some mentees may benefit from one-on-one mentoring, and mentor group leaders may meet “off line” with an individual, however, those who would benefit from more intensive mentoring may be referred to another senior scientist with particular knowledge or expertise.  MPOWIR maintains a list of several “on call” senior scientists who have volunteered to talk with a mentee about specific issues.  If a mentee would like to engage in a conversation with an “on call” mentor, MPOWIR will make these arrangements through the group leaders.

Registration for 2017 Mentor Groups is now open.  Deadline: October 20, 2017