Women in Technology Project
Table of Contents
- What is a mentor?
- Benefits to Mentors
- Expectations of Mentor
- Legal Issues
- Initiating and Maintaining Relationship
- What to Talk About
- Terminating the Relationship
- Tips for Mentors
- Information about Adolescents
- Mentor Agreement to Participate in Telementoring Program
What is a mentor?
A mentor provides consistent support, guidance, motivation, attention, and concrete help, without
being a tutor. She helps the protégé gain skills and confidence to be responsible for her future.
This role is always voluntary with clear roles and expectations.
Benefits to the Mentors
- Increase connection to young people
- Gain experience and knowledge about youth, community schools, and present day obstacles
for girls in science and technology
- Broaden career awareness
- Community outreach
- Network with other mentors around the state
- Give you a deeper insight into yourself
- Reinforce commitment to girls
- Escape from routine
Expectations of Mentor
- Commit for duration of project
- Keep mailbox of all sent and received correspondences
- Keep all communications confidential (unless safety issues are involved)
- Participate in occasional program evaluations (2 during project, 1 end of project)
- Report any problems to Project Coordinator as soon as they occur
- No giving or receiving of gifts or money
- No exchanging of phone numbers or addresses
- Be responsible for setting limits and boundaries with your time
- Be a friend and supportive adult to your mentee
With any mentoring program, especially ones with kids involved, there are liability issues to be
concerned about. Therefore, we will require all mentors to:
- Fill out the Mentor Questionnaire in full
- Sign the form at the end of the questionnaire consenting to a criminal check
- Participate in an on-line training session and sign an agreement to
adhere to the stated roles, responsibilities, and conditions of the relationship
- Agree to on-going monitoring of your relationship through the three evaluations (the mentees will
have 3 evaluations as well)
- Keep mailbox of all sent and received correspondence
Initiating and Maintaining Relationship
- After the match is created, it works well to introduce yourself by giving the student some information
about you personally (family, hobbies, travels, pets, etc…) in addition to the professional aspects of
- If it works for both of you, set goals and clarify expectations for the year. This should be done after
trust and confidentiality is established with your student. It is important to set goals that are:
- Conceivable -- You must be able to conceptualize the goal so that it is understandable
and then be able to identify what the first step or two would be.
- Believable -- You must believe that you can reach the goal.
- Achievable -- The goals set must be accomplishable with you and your mentee's given
strengths, abilities, and circumstances. If the goal is too difficult given the limited resources that come
with a relationship over the internet, it will lead to frustration and defeat.
- Challenging -- If the goal is too easy, there is little incentive to achieve it and little reward
in getting there.
- Measurable -- Your goal must be stated so that it is measurable in time and quantity. This
way, you and your mentee can guage your progress over time.
- Desirable -- Your goal should be something you and especially your mentee really want
to do, rather than something you feel you should do.
- A successful telementoring relationship depends on the student and the mentor feeling comfortable
with each other -- take time to get to know your student.
- Build trust -- Reassure the student that your conversations are confidential. Provide a safe place
- Follow through on commitments.
- Ask open ended questions to avoid the "yes" and "no" answers.
- Keep the communication informal -- A little fun mixed in with learning goes a long way!
- How much the two of you correspond will depend on both of you but we think it's important to
maintain regular contact with your student at least every other week -- if not more.
- It is important that you respond as quickly as possible when you receive mail from your student, if
only to let her know that you will get back to her when you have more time.
- Be consistent with your communication even if your student isn't.
What to Talk About
What you do
What your work is like
Equipment or tools you use
Description of your typical day
The Future in Your Field
Salary range for this type of occupation
Working environment (noise, hazards, lighting, indoor/outdoor travel, special clothing, etc.)
History of this kind of work
What you produce (goods, services, etc.)
Interdependence of your job and other jobs/products/industries
Where else in the community your kind of work is done
Government regulations affecting your work
Degree of opportunity for women and men
Opportunities for advancement
Personal qualities needed
Employment projections; effects of technology and new knowledge on your work
Effects of the country's economic condition on your job
Hints you would give someone applying for your job
Other jobs you could do with the same skills
Opportunities for further education
How you got started in this field
How Your Job Feels
Other jobs you've held
Skills that you already had that you use now; how you acquired them
Your recommendations to others for acquiring these same skills
Your job as a lifetime career or a stepping stone to something better
Related jobs for which you are now prepared
What you like and dislike about the job
How it Affects Your Personal Life
What you would change if you could
Avenues available to you for making suggestions on the job
What you would rather do if you are not satisfied
Interpersonal skills you find most important and why
Underlying attitudes and values important to your job
Why you chose this type of work
Job related skills you use elsewhere
What do you think is your greatest accomplishment / personal achievement to date? Why?
What do you most value in life?
Who do you most admire? Why?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Students Often Ask
What is an average work day like for you?
What did you hate doing that you had to do in order to get where you are?
Name the two most important qualities or skills that a person must have to be successful in
Which aspects of your job do you like the least?
Have you used what you learned in high school on the job?
What education is required for someone in your position?
Can you describe some related jobs in your field?
Did you always know what you wanted to be?
Terminating the Relationship
How the formal mentoring relationship is terminated shapes how both you and the student view
and remembers the experience. Don't just suddenly drop out of sight. Adolescents may feel
rejected at the loss of a formal mentor. Whether the relationship is being terminated because the
end of the program has come or the relationship is not working out, the following suggestions may
make the termination more pleasant for both of you:
- Set a specific date for your last conversation and inform your student of this ahead of time.
- Be honest, candid and supportive regardless of the reason for the termination.
- Talk about the reasons for ending the relationship.
- Talk about your thoughts and feelings for the student and your feelings about the termination.
Encourage the student to do the same.
- Be positive and supportive, especially about what the future may hold for your student
- If it seems appropriate, talk to the Project Coordinator about a replacement mentor for your student.
- Don't make promises you may not keep. (i.e. that you will always keep in touch).
- Focus on the progress you both made, the fun you had, and how the relationship was a learning
- If wanted by both parties, discuss new ways you plan to keep in contact.
- Notify the Project Coordinator of the termination.
adapted from EDC Center for Children and Technology
Copyright 1995 EDC/CCT All right reserved
A EDC/CCT project funded by NSF HRD #9450042
It's easy enough to use electronic mail, but there is an art to communicating effectively on-line. Here
are some simple guidelines and/or suggestions for telecommunicating:
- When writing email messages, be brief. You can often fit everything you need to communicate
in one screen of text.
- Be sure to include a descriptive title at the top of your text so the reader will know what the
message is about.
- Try to keep the length
of lines in your email below 70 characters; short lines are easier to read, especially on a computer
screen. Other people's terminals may not be able to display more than 70 characters, so they may
not be able to read the ends of long lines.
- Use blank spaces between paragraphs or other logical units of text to break the text up for the eye.
- Use mixed upper and lower case and standard capitalization. Mixed-case text is much easier to
read than all lower or all upper case; even worse, USING UPPER CASE WHEN YOU WRITE IS LIKE
SCREAMING WHEN YOU SPEAK!
- Most computer terminals do not display underlined, italicized, or bold characters, which are
commonly used to provide emphasis in word processors. So, if you want to emphasize something
you can use all-capital letters for what you REALLY want to emphasize.
- Another way to emphasize a word is to put *asterisks*, _underlines_, or special characters at the
beginning and end of a word or phrase.
- Keep your paragraphs short; in general, fewer than fifteen lines should be about right.
- Avoid using special keys (like tab bars), even if they seem to work fine while you are editing your
mail document. Such special characters may alter the display of your message making it virtually
unreadable on another person's computer terminal.
- When writing e-mail, begin your text with the name of the person to whom you are writing, just like
you would begin a regular letter. Even though the person's name is in the mail header, starting your
letter with their name makes your message seem more personal.
- If you are responding to someone else's e-mail, you might want to include short, relevant
passages from the original message. This will be useful to establish context, or give your e-mail
more of a conversational tone. The standard convention used in the Internet community is to: begin
each line from their message with a greater than sign. However, please edit down the quoted text so
that it is kept to a minimum.
- Never forget that the person to whom you are sending mail is another human being, with feelings
and beliefs that may be very different from yours! This can be easy to forget when you are writing
someone you have never met in person, and since you may know very little about her.
- In face to face conversation, there are many subtle cues provided by body language and
intonation that let us know how what we are saying is affecting the other person. These cues are
completely absent when using on-line postings, so strive to be concise, clear, and polite in your
writing, and flexible in your interpretation of other people's mail. This follows an old network axiom: be
precise in what you send, and forgiving in what you receive.
- Since e-mail does not contain physical cues, a number of conventions indicate that the previous
statement is meant in a light-hearted or humorous way. Smileys, when looked at sideways, look
vaguely like "stick drawings" of human faces. There are hundreds of smileys that can be made with
the basic characters of a keyboard, each of which conveys a slightly different meaning. Here is a
small audience of smileys to give you an idea:
- :-) the basic smiley
- ;-) the winking smiley
- : - a stern smiley
- :-# my lips are sealed
- :-& I'm tongue-tied
- :-o I'm bored (yawn)
- End the text of your message with your name. Again this makes your mail or newsgroup
posting feel more personal to the reader.
- And finally, before sending off your e-mail message: Look over what you have written. Make
sure you have said everything you needed to say. Make sure you haven't said things you didn't
need to say. Make sure you have used correct spelling and grammar, but don't be overly
concerned if a few typos have passed you by!
- Most of all, HAVE FUN!!!!
Tips for Mentors
(partly adapted from Vermont Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnerships manual)
- Be your student's friend, not a buddy -- A friend is a person who looks out for your best interest.
Therefore, a friend never allows you to do less than your best; a friend does not allow you to shirk
your responsibilities; a friend does not allow you to do things that will be harmful to you.
- Approach your student on a basis of mutual respect -- Your student has experienced many things
you have not and has knowledge you do not have. Show respect for these things and do not belittle
her for things not known or skills not yet acquired.
- Listen to the person you are mentoring without an agenda.
- Disregard the past failures of your student -- concentrate on the now.
- Always encourage the student to try -- even if the work appears too difficult
- Do not complete assignments or activities for your student. If you help your student develop
skills, independence will come.
- Help students focus on their strengths and encourage them to put themselves in healthy situations
where they have to use these strengths. Reinforce, compliment, and model positive behavior.
- Be sensitive to the feelings of your student -- Move the focus from intellectual thought to emotional
responses when feelings are being discussed. Ask questions such as "What does this mean to you?"
and "How did you feel about that?"
- Do not be judgmental or controlling in the relationship -- Don't give lectures on ways to behave.
Information, possibilities, suggestions, and alternatives may be presented, but only for consideration.
- Encourage your student to express her ideas, even if they are different from your own.
- Help students develop the ability to understand another's point of view.
- Do not be alarmed at remarks made by the student. Instead, focus on the reason behind what
was said or done.
- Try to demonstrate and communicate patience.
- Always show respect for your student's parents.
- Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. Use the opportunity to show your student
how to access and use the resources that contain answers.
- Avoid developing an inflated view of your role.
- Do not approach the relationship with an authoritative teacher role.
- Do not make false promises or reassure the mentee that things will be alright. This will be
recognized as superficial. Instead, communicate a feeling for the mentee and a desire to see
and understand the problem. Do not appear to be overly concerned or to assume the mentee's
problem. Look for ways to demonstrate change and progress.
- Share common experiences with your mentee.
- Help the student improve her attitude toward education and learning. A mentor should emphasize
that the student works and learns for herself and her own self improvement -- not for parents or for you.
- Be enthusiastic -- have a positive attitude.
- Be sincere in your praise of the mentee. Always praise the attempt as much or more than the
- Do not ignore a problem! Seek help from the Project Coordinator.
Information about adolescents
(partly adapted from Vermont Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnerships manual)
When reminiscing about adolescence, one often hears the phrase, "I'd never want to go through
THAT again!" It is important to remember why we think that -- what problems led you to never want
to go through adolescence again? And, in light of current local and global issues, how would these
add to your sense of self at ages 11 - 14?
Young adolescents are defining who they are. Their search for identity is influenced by changing
relationships with peers and adults and by internal emotional changes, some of them caused by
puberty. The ungainly appearance typical of puberty aggravates the emotional stress of young
adolescents, who are already self-conscious. Mood and behavior swings may occur and may be
accentuated by a diminished self-esteem -- a negative view young adolescents have of themselves
that they think others share.
The contradictions, contrasts, and conflicts that adolescents face are quite normal. The many
changes they are experiencing, along with the pressures of today's society, place some adolescents
under a great deal of stress. There is no "typical" young adolescent; every child remains an
individual with strengths, weaknesses, and irritating and attractive qualities.
However, there are some general characteristics that pertain to this age group:
- Test limits, "know-it-all" attitude
- Vulnerable, emotionally insecure, fear of rejection, mood swings
- Identification with admired adult
- Bodies go through physical changes that affect appearance
- Early maturers may be upset with their size. A listening ear and explanations will help
- Concerned with appearance and self-conscience about growth
- Diet and sleep habits can be bad, which may result in low energy levels
- Girls may begin menstruation and may begin sexual activity
- Being accepted by friends becomes quite important
- Cliques start to develop outside of school
- Team games become popular
- "Crushes" are common
- Friends set the general rule of behavior
- Feel a real need to conform. They dress and behave alike in order to belong.
- Very concerned about what others say and think of them
- Have a tendency to manipulate others
- Interested in earning own money
- Redefining relationship with family, moving toward more independence while still looking
to family for guidance and values
- Beginning to move from concrete thinking to abstract thinking
- Can't always perceive long-range implications of current decisions
- Expanded interest; intense, short-term enthusiasm
- Sensitive to praise and recognition. Feelings are hurt easily.
- Because friends are so important at this time, there can be conflicts between friend's rules and adult rules.
- Caught between being a child and being an adult
- Loud behavior and "showing off" hides their lack of self-confidence
- Look at the world more objectively than adults
While a telementoring program certainly is not an intervention or counseling program, it can help
young people to make decisions or seek professional help regarding some serious issues that
girls these age face everyday. The following list discusses the degrees and kinds of help that
mentors can provide for some very difficult issues, should they come up in conversation or you
suspect something wrong:
- Tend to be perfectionists. If they try to attempt too much, they may feel frustrated and guilty
- Want more independence, but know they need guidance and support
- Attention span can be lengthy
- Peer Pressure -- Adolescence is a time of socialization. Young people are
gathering information, advise, ideas, and signals from people other than their parents and teachers.
They look to peers for approval comparison, sources of self-esteem, and their own identity. It is
important to instill a sense of self into young people if they are to learn to make educated decisions
in difficult situations. The role of mentors is to equip adolescents with decision-making skills so that
young people can learn to feel responsible for the outcome of their decisions.
- Substance Abuse -- Peer pressure, family history and popular culture can all contribute
to a young person's experimentation with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Encouraging young people
to discuss and ask questions about substance abuse is an important step towards engaging their
trust and allowing them to educate themselves regarding it's dangers. Your role as a mentor is to
make literature and other resources available to them and help them to use these resources. In
addition, if they ask, explain to them why you have chosen not to abuse these substances -- it gives
them a role model for a non-substance abuser, without preaching. Young people who already have
substance abuse problems require more rigorous intervention than a mentoring program can offer.
Signs that an adolescent needs outside help:
- Irrational behavior or "spaced out" behavior
- A sudden increase in accidents
- Loss of interest in school
- Spending a lot of time alone
- Severe mood swings
- Sleeping a lot
- Emerging Sexuality and Teenage Parenting -- Body changes, social changes, and popular
culture's influence make sexuality an issue at a very young age in our society. In the age of AIDS,
other sexually transmitted diseases, and high teenage pregnancy rates, sex education that
incorporates sensitivity to emotional needs as well as physical causes and effects is essential.
Young people in need of intimacy or emotional support may turn to or seek out sexual relationships
to fulfill these needs. For this reason, effective education on sexual issues should include skills for
making decisions, setting goals, setting limits for relationships, fulfilling emotional needs without sex,
and taking responsibility for decisions and their consequences.
- Child Abuse and Family Violence -- Physical abuse detracts form a youth's self-esteem in ways
that sometimes only professionals can help change. A youth may become withdrawn, and turn to
peers for support and away from authority figures -- no matter how well meaning. The youth may
recreate a family history of violence or abuse in other relationships, thus continuing a cycle of
self-hatred, shame, and hatred or suspicion of others. These problems require professional help
and mentors should contact the Project Coordinator to find such help, without breaking the youth's
trust in the mentor. A mentor may need to say, "I'm concerned for you and I have to report what is
happening to so-and so." Signs that an adolescent needs outside help (many of these are hard
to tell over the internet, though you may get an indication if the reaction to the abuse is severe):
- Non-accidental physical injury
- Frequent "accidents"
- Abrupt changes in personality
- Physical defensiveness
- Running away
- Sudden onset of compulsive and/or self-destructive behavior
- Reluctance to be with a particular family member
- Depression and Suicide -- Depression and suicide are often related to one or more
of the issues above, compounded by a young person's inability to find answers to serious questions,
or emotional support for difficult problems. It is important, first of all, to acknowledge the seriousness
of the situation to the adolescent. Telling her "It's just a phase" or "You'll grow out of it" only verifies
any beliefs she may have that you don't understand. Suicide counseling is a matter for professionals
and mentors should contact the Project Coordinator for referrals, with the adolescent's knowledge.
In addition to seeking professional help for the youth, mentors can listen, provide resources and help
the youth to use them, and provide a support system for the youth while the youth and professional
counselor seek answers. Signs that an adolescent needs outside help:
- giving away possessions
- making a will
- talking about death or dying
- prolonged depression
- saying her family would be better off without her
- being suddenly at peace (may indicate a decision to end the pain by ending life)
- evidence of a plan and method
Mentor Agreement to Participate in the Women in Technology Telementoring Program
As a volunteer in the Women in Technology Telementoring
I, ____________________________ agree to:
(printed name of mentor)
- Participate in the program for the duration of the project
- Participate in all training
- Keep a mailbox of all sent and received correspondence
- Fill out all evaluations
- Engage in the relationship without discrimination
- Keep discussions with my mentee confidential
- Notify the Project Coordinator if there are any problems or questions
Signature of Mentor
Please send this signed document to:
Women in Technology Project,Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center
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