Woman–Woman Mentoring Relationships and Their Roles in Tenure Attainment

Elyn M. Palmer, Stephanie J. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Women working to attain tenure face multiple professional obstacles (e.g., isolation and navigating the professional environment), as well as personal issues (e.g., life balance), often without a sense of individual identity. One way to help address these challenges is mentoring programs. Existing mentoring programs in higher education tend to not pair mentors and mentees of the same gender, or limit their participants to those in specific academic fields. Through constructivism, a collective case study format, and framed by Kram’s mentoring theory, this study explored six women’s experiences and perceptions with woman–woman mentoring relationships, and the extent to which these relationships benefited their pursuit and attainment of tenure. Participants perceived that woman–woman mentoring relationships can help address the challenges that women faculty face in their personal and professional roles, as evidenced through their experiences with women mentors. They also perceived that there are benefits to establishing opportunities for women to create naturally occurring mentoring relationships that can help tenure-track women faculty navigate the tenure process more effectively. Finally, successful mentoring relationships entail choosing mentors who have characteristics such as viewing the mentoring relationship as part of a greater system—the academy—are honest, listen well, and are willing to advise mentees. In addition, participants perceived that woman–woman mentoring is more successful when holistic and communal, and unsuccessful if mentors are focused on self-preservation and not the growth of others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Women and Gender in Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


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