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Equitable student persistence in computing research through distributed career mentorship

Audrey Rorrer
Cori Grainger
Proceedings of 54th Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE’23), ACM (2023)


Google’s CS Research Mentorship Program (CSRMP) cultivates pursuit and persistence in the computing research trajectory for students from historically marginalized groups through virtual career mentorship from industry professionals, a peer community, and just-in-time resources. Since 2018, 287 Google mentors have engaged 1,018 students from 247 institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The program employs socioemotional support and advocacy to navigate systemic barriers by validating students’ intersectional identities in order to improve outcomes in core constructs for students: self-efficacy, sense of belonging, research skills, motivation to pursue graduate school and research careers, and intersectional capital. Evaluation outcomes from 400 matched respondents (68% response rate) indicate that CSRMP affects positive, statistically significant change in those constructs that largely persists across demographic subgroups. 80% aim to pursue computing research careers, and significantly fewer students are undecided about their future career. We were also able to identify disaggregated learnings: Black, Indigenous, and Latinx students are significantly less likely to submit to a research conference, and students from Historically Marginalized Groups (defined within) are significantly less likely to apply to a CS graduate program. We discuss key design elements of the program, how the findings are informing future iterations, and the potential for the model to scale.

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