Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 31 Issue 04

View Issue TOC
Volume 31, No. 4
Pages 171 - 179


Meeting Mentoring Needs in Physical Oceanography: An Evaluation of the Impact of MPOWIR

By Colleen B. Mouw , Sarah Clem, Sonya Legg, and Jean Stockard 
Jump to
Article Abstract Citation Supplementary Materials References Copyright & Usage
Article Abstract

After a decade of program offerings, the Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention (MPOWIR) program initiated a community-wide survey to (1) assess the impact MPOWIR has had on retention of women in the field of physical oceanography, and (2) gauge where needs are being met and where gaps still exist. To investigate the impact of MPOWIR, we compare MPOWIR participants with male and female cohorts that did not participate in MPOWIR but were at a similar career stage. The survey results indicate MPOWIR has had a substantial impact by aiding individuals in finding and developing mentoring relationships. MPOWIR women are far more likely to have a mentor, and they report having mentors in addition to their advisors, indicating proactive seeking of mentoring relationships. Survey results identify many unmet mentoring needs for both men and women, but MPOWIR participants appear to be receiving more from their mentoring relationships than their non-MPOWIR cohorts. The majority of survey respondents reported there were challenges to achieving career goals, but MPOWIR participants were significantly more likely to have attained their career goals, even though they had received their PhDs more recently. Eighty-eight percent of survey respondents with PhDs were employed in oceanography, irrespective of participation in MPOWIR. MPOWIR women indicate the program has had a large impact on their lives, with the greatest effect being expansion of professional networks and exposure to professional development skills. Senior participants in the program (who serve as mentors to junior scientists) also reported significant professional and personal growth from being involved. Data obtained independently of the survey show that, of the 173 women who have participated in MPOWIR, the recent PhDs are predominantly in postdoctoral positions as expected, but for participants receiving their PhDs prior to 2012, an impressive 80% are in faculty or university/government/nonprofit research positions. Thus, MPOWIR appears to have had an important impact on retention and career satisfaction of its participants.


Mouw, C.B., S. Clem, S. Legg, and J. Stockard. 2018. Meeting mentoring needs in physical oceanography: An evaluation of the impact of MPOWIR. Oceanography 31(4):171–179, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2018.405.

Supplementary Materials

Supplementary Materials (267 KB pdf)
This document includes statistical tables and explanations to supplement the main article.


Bernard, R.E., and E.H.G. Cooperdock. 2018. No progress on diversity in 40 years. Nature Geoscience 11:292–295, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0116-6.

Carrell, S.E., M.E. Page, and J.E. West. 2010. Sex and science: How professor gender perpetuates the gender gap. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 125(3):1,101–1,144, https://doi.org/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.3.1101.

Casadevall, A., and J. Handelsman. 2014. The presence of female conveners correlates with a higher proportion of female speakers at scientific symposia. mBio 5(1):e00846, https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00846-13.

Clem, S., S. Legg, S. Lozier, and C.B. Mouw. 2014. The impact of MPOWIR: A decade of investing in mentoring women in physical oceanography. Oceanography 27(4) suppl.: 39–48, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2014.113.

Clem, S., C.B. Mouw, and S. Legg. 2016. Mentoring Physical Oceanography Women to Increase Retention (MPOWIR) Handbook. 31 pp., http://mpowir.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/MPOWIR-Handbook.pdf.

Cohen, J. 1988. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, 2nd ed. Routledge, New York.

Dennehy, T.C., and N. Dasgupta. 2017. Female peer mentors early in college increase women’s positive academic experiences and retention in engineering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114(23):5,964–5,969, https://doi.org/​10.1073/pnas.1613117114.

Eby, L.T. de T., T.D. Allen, B.J. Hoffman, L.E. Baranik, J.B. Sauer, S. Baldwin, L.E. Sauer, J.B. Baldwin, S. Morrison, M.A. Kinkada, and others. 2013. An interdisciplinary meta-analysis of the potential antecedents, correlates, and consequences of protégé perceptions of mentoring. Psychological Bulletin 139(2):441–476, https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029279.

Feder, T. 2016. Academic community responds to harassment cases. Physics Today 69(6), https://doi.org/​10.1063/PT.3.3195.

Hollis, L.P. 2012. Bully in the Ivory Tower: How Aggression and Incivility Erode American Higher Education. Patricia Berkly Books, 164 pp.

Lerback, J., and B. Hanson. 2017. Journals invite too few women to referee. Nature 541:455–457, https://doi.org/10.1038/541455a.

Lozier, M.S. 2005. A community effort toward the retention of women in physical oceanography. Oceanography 1:35–38, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2005.68.

Lozier, M.S. 2006. Mentoring program for women in physical oceanography. Eos 87(12):127–128, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2006EO120005.

Lozier, M.S. 2009. A successful first Pattullo Conference. Oceanography 22(1):224–225, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.25.

Lozier, M.S., A. Adcroft, L. Beal, A. Bower, D. Byrne, A. Capotondi, V. Coles, K. Lavender, C.M. Lee, J. MacKinnon, and others. 2006. MPOWIR: Mentoring Physical Oceanography to Increase Retention. Report of a workshop held October 9–12, 2005, 32 pp., http://mpowir.org/mpowir_FINAL5.30.06.pdf.

Lozier, M.S., and S. Clem. 2015. Mentoring physical oceanography women to increase retention. Pp. 121–134 in Women in the Geosciences: Practical, Positive Practices Toward Parity. M.A. Holmes, S. O’Connell, and K. Dutt, eds, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.

Martini, K., E.F. Williams, and C.B. Mouw. 2009. The Pattullo Conference: Building community through mentoring. Oceanography 22(1):182–183, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.26.

Mervis, J. 2017. NSF’s uphill road to making prestigious early career award more diverse. Science, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aal1113.

Moss-Racusin, C.A., J.F. Dovidio, V.L. Brescoll, M.J. Graham, and J. Handelsman. 2012. Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109(41):16,474–16,479, https://doi.org/​10.1073/pnas.1211286109.

Rose, G. L. 2005. Group differences in graduate students’ concepts of the ideal mentor. Research in Higher Education 46(1):53–80, https://doi.org/​10.1007/s11162-004-6289-4.

Sheltzer, J.M., and J.C. Smith. 2014. Elite male faculty in the life sciences employ fewer women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(28):10,107–10,112, https://doi.org/​10.1073/pnas.1403334111.

Shen, H. 2013. Inequality quantified: Mind the gender gap. Nature 495:22–24, https://doi.org/​10.1038/495022a.

Thompson, L., R.C. Perez, and A.E. Shevenell. 2011. Closed ranks in oceanography. Nature Geosciences 4:211–212, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1113.

Wilson, C. 2017. Female geoscience faculty representation grew steadily between 2006 - 2016. Geoscience Currents 119, https://www.americangeosciences.org/​workforce/​currents/​female-​geoscience-​faculty-​representation-​grew-​steadily-​between-​2006-​2016.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.