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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Reducing STEMM Inequality Via Culturally Aware Mentoring

Racism and discrimination are significant problems that complicate underrepresented groups’ (URG) success, including American Indians, African Americans and Latinx. The United States also falls short in diversifying the workforce in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical sciences (STEMM). Increasing STEMM workforce diversity will bring broader talent to reducing health inequities, advancing scientific discovery and meeting the growing demand for STEMM professionals.

This project addresses inequality in STEMM representation by investigating how culturally aware mentor training increases mentoring effectiveness and URG predoctoral student outcomes. Since 2016, the study team has implemented a year-long mentorship education program focused on mentoring competencies and cultural awareness for the HHMI Gilliam Fellowship Program. This program is a living laboratory of the diversity and inclusion issues commonly wrestled with in academia as the research mentors are largely White/Caucasian paired with URG students.

With three years of longitudinal data on 125 mentor-mentee pairs which, to the team’s knowledge, is the only such data set of longitudinal STEMM relationships, the team is uniquely poised to elucidate the longitudinal impact of mentor training on these relationships and on student outcomes. Research findings will inform mentor training programs and practices in graduate STEMM education.

The study aims to determine impact of mentor training on mentoring effectiveness and student academic and career outcomes, identify significant factors in mentor training that affect student and mentor outcomes, and examine how cross-racial/ethnic dyadic mentoring relationships evolve over time.


Angela Byars-Winston, professor of medicine


Christine Pfund, senior scientist for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research


Jenna Rogers, assistant scientist for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research