Mentorship Scheme

The Society for Women and Minorities in Philosophy is running a mentorship scheme for undergraduate students.The scheme is open to all undergraduates who are thinking of pursuing philosophy after graduation.

Overview

We are concerned by the fact that diversity in academic philosophy steadily decreases at higher levels of study. Our mentorship scheme targets undergraduate students that identify as women or members of a minority group, although we are open to all. An undergraduate is matched with a PhD student based on shared philosophical interests. The role of the mentor is to encourage their mentee to see themselves as a potential philosopher. Mentors and mentees discuss philosophy, philosophical skills, and possibly postgraduate study.

Why we think the mentorship scheme is valuable

Our group keeps in mind a strong focus on research from social psychology concerning implicit bias and stereotype threat. These phenomena work on a subconscious level and lead to underrepresentation of minority groups without any need for conscious discriminatory thoughts. The most effective way to combat stereotype threat, which causes underrepresented groups to underperform, is to provide positive role models to members of underrepresented groups. Our aim is to provide undergraduates at high risk of stereotype threat with a mentor who encourages them to see themselves as potential philosophers. We hope that by achieving this aim, we will be addressing the ‘leaky pipe effect’ – where minorities are increasingly underrepresented in higher levels of academic philosophy.

 

How it works
We match undergraduates with a PhD mentor based on mutual philosophical interests. Each pair is asked to fill out a mentorship contract that specifies how much contact the pair will aim to have each semester and what the mentee hopes to get from the partnership. Mentors are not allowed to help their mentee with any coursework, but they can help their mentee with general philosophy skills – such as how to read and write philosophy, and how to participate in philosophical discussions. Mentors can also discuss graduate admissions with their mentees. We encourage mentors to engage with mentees in discussions about the philosophy the mentee is currently reading or studying, or about areas of mutual interest.
We have also secured funding from the university to reimburse mentors/mentees for the cost of meeting for coffee together.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Joe Slater (js558) if you are interested.

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