The Advance Project

Enhancing the academic careers of women in science, technology, engineering, & mathematics

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Mentoring is Work


The literature on mentoring in universities reports that mentored faculty experience higher levels of job satisfaction, better student evaluations, greater academic productivity, and a stronger likelihood of remaining at a particular university than non-mentored faculty (Cartwright, 2007).  Mentoring, however, is not a panacea for all problems in a department, university or institution. A field-based research project funded by the Women’s Education Act under the purview of the U.S. Department of Education has identified some misconceptions about mentoring (Center for Excellence in Teaching).  Although potentially rewarding, mentoring is work and requires effort.  Institutions should reward those individuals who agree to take on the responsibility. Recognition or incentives turn mentoring into an important activity and a priority in the workplace


Mentoring should be approached from a position of strength and reserved for developing human potential. It should not be applied as a solution in a problem department or to problem employee nor solely as an orientation activity. Mentors and mentees are often assigned to one another with the assumption that a common workplace will be enough to make the relationship work. Not everyone is a good mentor or mentee, and participants’ readiness, communication, volunteerism, compatibility and mentoring style should be assessed. Each member of the pair has different needs and considerations. Training and guidelines are important, but a successful mentoring program allows for individualized goals drawn jointly from the pair. Institutions benefit when they provide resources for the pair and do not hamper their progress (Center for Excellence in Teaching).

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