Advancing women to the presidency at four-year institutions of higher education : the role of mentoring



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The purpose of this study was to examine mentoring as a strategy to advance women to the presidency of four-year higher education institutions. This qualitative study employed a phenomenological approach to understand this phenomenon from the participants’ perspective (Creswell, 2013; Patton, 2002). This study used the conceptual frameworks of mentorship theory, relational cultural theory, and critical feminist theory because of their interconnectedness (Alvarez & Lazzari, 2016; Benishek et al., 2004; Chao et al., 1992; Kram, 1985). Mentorship theory addressed the benefits of having a mentoring relationship at work (Kram, 1985); feminist theory makes gender a focus of analysis by examining practices that have excluded, devalued, or undermined women's concerns (Benishek et al., 2004); and Black feminist theory highlighted the obstacles directly related to the intersection of race and gender that can be detrimental to success in the academy (Benishek et al., 2004; Jones et al., 2013). There are a total of nine study findings: 1) the encouragement of others to pursue higher-level positions; 2) the difficulty of balancing family and work; 3) the unique issues of being a female leader; 4) definitions of mentorship and leadership; 5) formal versus informal mentorship; 6) the role of gender in mentorship; 7) the role of race in mentorship; 8) relationship; and 9) sponsorship.


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