Developing support structures inside and outside academia for students in the ocean sciences.

Corey Garza, California State University Monterey Bay, Marine Science, Seaside, CA, United States and Laura H Good, California State University, Monterey Bay, College of Science, Seaside, CA, United States
Abstract:
Historically efforts to increase diversity in the ocean sciences have focused on approaches to address the lack of underrepresented students within the ocean sciences community. However, once within an academic track in the ocean sciences students may find themselves within a mentoring structure that does not resonate with the experiences of their cultural landscapes. Furthermore, underrepresented students may experience pressures from within their own cultural landscapes to pursue career paths that fall outside the ocean sciences. The joint influence of these pressure can result in underrepresented students leaving ocean science career tracks at a rate that is relatively higher than other student groups. Thus, beyond traditional student support mechanisms, there is a growing need to provide mentors in the ocean sciences with the skills to engage with the diverse cultural structures of underrepresented students. This needs to be coupled with efforts to make the ocean sciences more visible and relevant to the communities that underrepresented students identify with. The joint influence of culturally relevant academic mentoring coupled with community support has the potential to improve the engagement and retention of students in the ocean sciences. Here I discuss programs designed to train mentors in how to engage students from diverse cultural backgrounds as well as, efforts to make the ocean sciences relevant to the communities that underrepresented students identify with. These programs can provide a scalable framework that can be used to improve the support structures needed to retain underrepresented students within the ocean sciences.