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2018 JSM Diversity Mentoring Program: Why Mentoring Matters

1 October 2018 No Comment
Dionne Swift and Adrian Coles
    Sharon S. Caslin of Decatur Georgia attends the Diversity Mentoring Workshop on July 31 at JSM 2018 in Vancouver, Canada.

    Sharon S. Caslin of Decatur Georgia attends the Diversity Mentoring Workshop on July 31 at JSM 2018 in Vancouver, Canada.

      As a regular activity of the ASA Committee on Minorities in Statistics (CMS), the core objective of the JSM Diversity Mentoring Program (DMP) is to encourage and foster the development of mentoring relationships and networking for historically under-represented minority graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and early-career professionals with more senior-level statisticians/biostatisticians from academia, government, and industry.

      Over the years, this program has been successful in creating enduring mentoring relationships and nurturing a pipeline of minority statistics professionals. It has also helped build a dynamic community in which individuals are committed to the success of the community in addition to individual personal and professional success. In fact, many program participants have repeatedly contributed to the program by serving as mentors and members of the DMP planning team.

      Feedback from participants, like that of 2015 participant Oluyemi Oyeniran demonstrate the value of the mentoring relationships formed due to this program: “I [want to thank you] for your support, care, and constructive criticism during my final year of my doctorate program and my job search process. … Your insights and perspective are priceless to my success.”

      Program Summary

      This year’s program was held from Sunday, July 29, through Wednesday, August 1, at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, BC. It brought together 16 mentor-mentee pairs along with invited contributors for small-group career discussions, one-on-one mentoring, and networking opportunities.

      The program included a welcome dinner, during which the matched mentors and mentees were formally introduced, and three scheduled sessions for the entire group of mentors and mentees.

      On Monday morning, Dubois Bowman, chair and professor of biostatistics at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health (soon to be dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health), opened the mentoring session by offering a motivating commentary on the power and benefits of mentoring, including practical tips for effective mentoring. He also conveyed the value of mentoring in his career progression. Immediately following his presentation, participants heard from a panel of veteran mentor/mentee pairs who took turns interviewing each other. The pairs shared various ways in which they established trust, patterns of interactions, and boundaries.

      During the career session on Tuesday, Emily Butler of GlaxoSmithKline shared tips for job searching, résumé writing, and interviewing. After, in the collaborating session, Adrian Coles of Duke Clinical Research Institute moderated a panel discussion that included successful statisticians in academia, government, and industry who offered advice about effective and active collaboration.

      On Wednesday, participants took part in a roundtable discussion about issues proposed by the mentees. Questions ranged from how to select an adviser to how to manage difficult relationships in the workplace. In addition to the scheduled sessions, mentors and mentees met one-on-one throughout the meeting and participated in JSM activities together.

      Next year, the 2019 JSM Diversity Mentoring Program will also include a full-day workshop that includes approximately 100 participants, along with the one-on-one mentoring and small-group sessions. Check the Committee on Minorities in Statistics webpage for more information if you are interested in participating in the next program or the CMS’ other key initiative, StatFest.

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