A Preliminary Exploration of the Professional Support Networks the EDGE Program Creates
Programs such as the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Program for women focus on improving outcomes for women and minorities in postgraduate degree programs in mathematics. One of the functions of these programs is increasing the size and reach of professional networks, including both mentors and peers. This is, in part, based on research showing a direct correlation between the strength of professional networks and individual professional success. However, little work has been done to analyze networks created by such programs. We extracted the network connections between EDGE participants from their undergraduate and graduate training in addition to their EDGE co-participants. We then examined these connections according to some frequently explored metrics of network organization to ascertain whether features of participation within the EDGE network were critical to individual success. Unfortunately, for the purpose of this work, EDGE was a victim of its own success: nearly all the past participants of the program were successfully employed in roles that utilized their postgraduate degrees in mathematics! We subsequently chose a more restrictive definition for success and explored factors within the available EDGE network that might predict the completion of a doctoral degree in mathematics. Our preliminary study lays the groundwork for future efforts to understand the true impact of EDGE-like programs and how to design purposefully targeted, efficient, and effective interventions.
The authors both wish to thank the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) for visitor support to CRP.
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