Mentoring for Institutional Transformation: Recommendations from a Comparative Analysis
It is clear that the significant under-representation of women and members of other historically marginalized groups is not primarily a problem individual choices or individual discrimination, but a consequence of gendered (raced and classed) institutions and cultures. How do we create mentoring programs that acknowledge and address this? How can mentoring programs, which have historically focused on helping individual women succeed, challenge the gendered, raced, and classed norms that structure institutions and thus transform them?
When mentoring programs are designed and led by people who have succeeded in the structure as it exists, these individuals may be used as examples of how the structure is unproblematic and programs may not question the expectations, ideals, and organizational arrangements that create the need for such programs – a practice that may actually lead to institutional change.
Relatedly, members of under-represented groups often take on too much of the burden of service and administrative responsibilities associated with institutional change. If the work to create more inclusive and equitable institutions is done mostly by people from these groups and that work is not recognized, valued, and rewarded, our institutions will continue as they are because these people will be pushed (or kept) out.
This research examines how mentoring programs might contribute to institutional change in higher education. It analyzes mentoring models and promising practices in the United States and Austria (among other countries), and includes data from interviews with participants and administrators. As such, it considers cultural context and laws and policies that shape mentoring programs.