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Faculty Mentoring

Image of one male scientist mentoring a slightly younger male scientist by displaying a formula

Faculty Mentoring

This is one of several short essays that was prepared as a set of resources during the original NSF ADVANCE grant period. The essay, written by Violet Xu, introduces some of the key issues related to mentoring faculty.

What is mentoring?


Workplace mentoring has been traditionally defined as a developmental relationship between an older, more experienced mentor and a younger, less experienced protégé for the purpose of helping and developing the protégé’s career (Kram, 1985). Workplace mentoring occurs in an organizational setting. Faculty-to-faculty mentoring in a university is an example of workplace mentoring. There are, however, multiple models of mentoring which includes formal (Ragins & Cotton, 1999) and informal (Ragins & Cotton, 1999) relationships, peer-to-peer (Ensher, Thomas, & Murphy, 2001), group (Dansky, 1996), and e-mentoring (Hamilton & Scandura, 2003). No single model works for everyone and, in fact, multiple mentors are advisable in an academic setting (De Janasz & Sullivan, 2004) to address the various aspects of an academic career (e.g., research, teaching, grantsmanship, work-life balance, etc.).

What are the outcomes of mentoring?

Research on workplace mentoring has established that mentoring results in multiple benefits for both the protégé (Eby et al., 2013) and the mentor (e.g., Allen, Poteet, & Burroughs, 1997). As indicated in Eby et al.’s process-oriented model of mentoring, outputs include job performance, motivation, as well as numerous attitudinal, behavioral, career-related (e.g., salary, promotion, job satisfaction, career satisfaction), and health-related outcomes. In addition to these distal criteria, there are a number of more proximal mentorship-specific outcomes including the quality of the mentoring (Allen & Eby, 2003) and satisfaction with the mentoring (Ragins, Cotton, & Miller, 2000).

Mentoring may be especially important for women, as mentors can help women overcome gender-related barriers to advancement (Noe, 1988; Ragins, 1989). However, women may be at a disadvantage when it comes to developing mentoring relationships (Ragins & Scandura, 1997). Men are less willing to mentor women and there is a shortage of women mentors in male-dominated fields; thus women are less likely to develop mentoring relationships (Noe, 1988; Ragins, 1989).

For more information, please consult these selected references. 

The Women's Faculty Network at Texas A&M has a mentoring program for women faculty. Tenured faculty members volunteer to be mentors for junior faculty.

Texas A&M has been working with the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) to improve the way that TAMU faculty think about mentoring.  In the Fall of 2019, several dozen faculty participated in Mentoring Facilitator Training Program with CIMER. The CIMER website provides more information on this program.