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MENTORNET HELPS WOMEN PURSUE
SCIENCE, ENGINEERING CAREERS

By Doug Tattershall

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"What I liked about the program was how well they matched me up with my mentor... She was an extremely positive individual, always encouraging me to continue and always giving me advice."

--Bridget Emerling,
graduate physics student

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Sept. 22, 1999 – (Lexington, Ky.) –  Women studying math, science or engineering at the University of Kentucky have the opportunity to find a mentor through a national electronic network called MentorNet.

The program, based in San Jose, Calif., matches female students with professionals in industry for a yearlong mentoring relationship via e-mail. Last year, 539 students from 26 universities -- including UK -- received one-on-one mentoring from MentorNet. MentorNet plans to expand to 1,000 students this year.

Bridget Emerling, a graduate physics student from Lexington, participated in the program last year and still keeps in touch with her mentor.

"What I liked about the program was how well they matched me up with my mentor. She happened to have her Ph.D. in my field, and she was only four years older than me," Emerling said. "She was an extremely positive individual, always encouraging me to continue and always giving me advice. What’s more is that I was fortunate enough to meet her toward the end of the spring semester at a national conference."

MentorNet is designed to help eliminate the under-representation of women in technical fields. Though women represent 46 percent of the current American labor force, just 18 percent of scientists and engineers in American industry are women, according to Carol B. Muller, executive director of MentorNet.

Mentors come from a number of companies including Intel, AT&T, DuPont and IBM.

"My mentor provided help with everything from suggesting valuable courses to reviewing my resume. He even gave me a point of contact to inquire about internships with his company," said Michelle Andreen, a student from Bowling Green who earned her bachelor’s degree last year in computer science and is now a graduate student.

Last year, 17 UK students participated in MentorNet. Sue Scheff, director of the Women in Engineering Program at UK, said she hopes to see that number grow significantly this year.

To sign up for a mentor, visit the MentorNet home page at http://www.mentornet.net and click on "student." The deadline for applying is Oct. 8.


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