Submitted on behalf of the WIT Mentoring Breakfast Planning Committee
Mentoring constitutes one of the most important aspects of a scientific society, and SOT has been recognized on many occasions for their dedication to the mentoring of underrepresented minorities and the support to diverse populations. This year, the Women in Toxicology (WIT) Special Interest Group (SIG) organized a Mentoring Breakfast pilot event at the SOT Annual Meeting in San Francisco in collaboration with the Career Resource and Development (CRAD) Committee, the SIG-Collaboration Group (CG), and the Postdoctoral Assembly (PDA) to foster mentor-mentee relationships. Besides the classical mentoring of students and postdoctoral fellows, this initiative was targeted to span a vast audience, inclusive of individuals at all stages of their career from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies searching for a mentor without any boundaries or limitations.
The event was held on Monday, March 12, 2012, and included a continental breakfast, followed by panel presentations, breakout groups, and a mentor-match questionnaire to facilitate matching. Guest speakers from various stages in their career presented their experiences receiving and giving mentoring, discussed strategies to find mentors, and provided suggestions on how to keep a good mentor-mentee relationship that benefits both participants. Trained facilitators at each table then conducted discussions guided to collect information about the mentees that would help match them with potential mentors. Questionnaires also were filled out by mentees to enable facilitators to match and introduce them to their new SOT mentor via ToXchange just weeks after the breakfast. It is anticipated that the mentor-mentee relationship will be followed up over the next three years to monitor whether the relationship has been beneficial for both parties and to identify ways to improve the event and program in the future.
This year, nearly 50 mentees were enrolled in the pilot event, and we look forward to reaching out to an even greater number of mentees as we continue this program at next year’s SOT Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas!