The Equator mentoring network set out to improve experiences and increase retention of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students in environmental research.
The Equator Mentoring Network, which took place from January to May 2022, facilitated networking between Black, Asian and minority ethnic student mentees and mentors involved in GEES subject areas. It was a ring-fenced initiative that remunerated participants for their involvement. The overall goal of the Mentoring Network was to increase retention into postgraduate research (PGR) and improve student experience.
Participants in the network included 10 student mentees from across the spectrum of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science (GEES) subject areas and 20 mentors representing both academic and non-academic professional career pathways within GEES sectors.
Flyer used to advertise the Equator Mentoring Network
Based on feedback from mentees and mentors, through formal pre-, mid- and post-mentoring surveys and informal mid-project group meetings, it is evident that the Mentoring Network achieved its aims. Feedback demonstrates that the interaction between mentees at an early stage in their academic careers and mentors with established careers in GEES led to increased sense of belonging and inclusion, increased likelihood of retention into research, and the development of a body of experienced mentors to support future students. Equator mentees cited feelings of empowerment and improved confidence in continuing into PGR following the project. The majority felt more likely to pursue a career in GEES research because of participation in the mentoring. All Equator mentors reported improvements in their personal skills development as a mentor and felt that being part of Equator Mentor Network had increased their likelihood of being involved in ring-fenced mentoring schemes in the future.