Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Engineering and Science Education
Dr. Karen Ann High
Dr. Tia Dumas
Dr. Cindy Lee
Dr. Matthew Boyer
Positive mentoring experiences are crucial for retaining and advancing those who hold marginalized identities in STEM, as they foster a greater sense of belonging and self-efficacy that encourage these students to persist in their fields. Marginalized identities in STEM include, but are not limited to, women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), low-income, first-generation, neurodivergent, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Oftentimes, these identities intersect, introduce additional nuance in interactions within engineering spaces, and affect the mentoring support that both mentees and their mentors require.
Prior research has shown the reciprocal value that is created when graduate students are able to connect with mentors who share similar lived experiences and values. However, the severe underrepresentation of women and others who hold marginalized identities in STEM poses a daunting challenge for addressing the lack of ready access to inclusive mentorship. Thus, the goal of this work is to inform a more robust set of mentoring strategies that faculty advisors of all genders can leverage to mentor women in engineering more effectively, thereby expanding availability and access to inclusive mentorship of women without relying solely on the availability of women mentors.
My work uses an asset-based case study approach that combines elements of Schlossberg’s Transition theory and Yosso’s Community Cultural Wealth theory to explore several existing, strongly positive mentoring relationships between doctoral candidates in engineering disciplines who identify as women and their most influential mentors to uncover how these relationships are developed, navigated, and sustained. Through separate, in-depth semi-structured interviews with each participant, I address the following overarching research questions: 1) What does effective, inclusive graduate mentorship look like for women doctoral candidates in engineering, applying an intersectional lens? 2) How does effective mentorship affect the way they navigated the dissertation process? Recognizing that both the women mentees and their mentors will have collections of identities that go beyond gender, this dissertation study employs an intersectional lens to better understand how these intersecting or conflicting identities may introduce additional nuance into the mentoring relationships.
Based on the findings, mentors should consider implementing the following strategies to build and strengthen positive mentoring relationships with women doctoral students in engineering disciplines and improve the effectiveness of those mentoring interactions: intentional acknowledgement of identities, values, and lived experiences of the mentee; active advocacy on behalf of the mentee; positive and consistent affirmations of the mentees’ agency and competency; and demonstrations of authentic caring and listening in interactions with the mentee.
Brown, Jennifer, "Embracing Identities and Affirming Agency: Exploring Effective Mentorship for Women Doctoral Students in Engineering Disciplines Using an Intersectional Lens" (2023). All Dissertations. 3511.
Author ORCID Identifier