MentorNet - The E-Mentoring Network for Diversity in Engineering and Science

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
City & State:
San Jose, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To further the progress of women and others underrepresented in scientific and technical fields through the use of a dynamic, technology-supported mentoring network.


To advance individuals and society, and enhance engineering and related sciences, by promoting a diversified, expanded and talented global workforce.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

MentorNet is an 11-year-old organization that connects post-secondary students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fields with professionals in their field for eight-month e-mentoring. National data shows that only half of the students who enter STEM education programs ever graduate in those fields, and the GAO reports that mentoring is one activity that helps with the retention of students in the STEM pipeline.


Mentoring has been found to be particularly helpful retaining women and others underrepresented in the field. MentorNet has managed to make more than 23,000 matches over its existence, with a very small staff, by leveraging a highly automated proprietary platform that runs on Microsoft technology: .net, Visual Studio,, and SQL Server. Our system includes web interface for participant registration and profile entry, intranet-based customer service management tools, and web based reporting tools, all developed using Microsoft technologies. This system allows us to effectively support more than 6000 concurrent participants with a staff of only five. Without the benefit of this Microsoft-based platform we would be unable to provide the services with the reach and efficacy that we do.


Individuals wishing to become either mentors or protégés complete a profile which is used in our patent-pending bi-directional matching algorithm to create the matches. Our system then sends to both the mentors and protégés a sequence of coaching prompts to help guide them through the relationship. For undergraduates the messages are weekly, for graduate students, postdoctoral students, and early career faculty the message are delivered twice monthly.


MentorNet Mentor:” MentorNet does a great job of supporting the mentor throughout the allotted mentor-protege relationship. With my busy schedule, I really found the follow-up mechanisms to be quite effective. Of particular benefit were the prompts to discuss certain subject matter with the protege.”

MentorNet Protégé:” The MentorNet discussion prompts were excellent, and every 2 weeks was about the right amount of time.”


MentorNet partners with over one hundred colleges and universities to make our program accessible via the Web to their students. Over a dozen professional societies and projects see MentorNet’s mentoring as a beneficial and provide it as a member service to their student members. These professional societies also recruit mentors from their professional members. More than a dozen corporate sponsors show their support for MentorNet through financial support, while MentorNet mentors volunteer from more than 1000 different corporations.


MentorNet Mentor: “I have been participating as a mentor through the MentorNet program for about 4 years. I have had 3 mentees during that time. I have found MentorNet to be a very professional and well-executed organization. Personally, MentorNet is extremely rewarding for me and represents such a small portion of my time that the payoff is simply phenomenal… ”


Protégés find their extended relationship gives them guidance and hope in a very direct and personal way and often leads to employment possibilities. A majority of MentorNet protégés consider or apply to their mentor's company or institution. During these difficult economic times, with unemployment at its highest in a quarter of a century, the professional connections that MentorNet brings to students are especially important. Only 43% of employers plan to hire recent college graduates in 2009, down from 79% in 2007(1). 5.7 million jobs have been lost since late 2007, especially in the tech sector. These news reports are frightening to students, but MentorNet can provide them real hope and real guidance.


MentorNet Protégé: “I am having a good experience with this program. it is really essential for women, at least from my perspective. I am isolated at school and at work in many ways and this program allows me a chance to talk to someone without the risk of being treated as an outsider. It is great. Thanks again.”

MentorNet Protégé: “Good day, I think this is the best program I have ever met on net. Mr Richards is perfect and I am in good communication with him. Thank you. “


The impact of our program, over time, has been clear. Our protégés are 55% women and 60% underrepresented minorities from the campuses we serve. 93% remain in their STEM fields three years after completing the program. 91% would recommend the program to another student. A majority (52%) express interest in, apply for, or land a job with their mentors’ companies. Our active community has grown to more than 25,000 participants, and our partners vote with their feet: 90% of corporate sponsors, campus partners, and societies re-new their partnership with us year over year.



Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact