Improvement in the proportion of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities (URMs) in academic positions has been unsatisfactory. Although this is a complex problem, one key issue is that graduate students often rely on research mentors for career-related support, the effectiveness of which can be variable. We present results from a novel academic career “coaching” intervention, one aim of which was to provide supplementary social support for PhD students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. Coaching was delivered both within small groups and on an individual basis, with a diverse group of coaches and students coming from many universities. Coaches were provided with additional diversity training. Ninety-six semistructured interviews with 33 URM students over 3 years were analyzed using a qualitative framework approach. For most of the URM PhD students, coaching provided social support in the form of emotional, informational, and appraisal support. Coaching groups provided a noncompetitive environment and “community of support” within which students were able to learn from one another’s experiences and discuss negative and stressful experiences related to their graduate school, lab, or career plans. This coached peer group model is capable of providing the social support that many URM students do not find at their home universities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)