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Feminist Mentoring and Female Graduate Student Success: Challenging Gender Inequality in Higher Education



There has been much research on gender inequality in higher education and the benefits of mentoring. However, since mentoring has been a predominantly male experience, most research with female students focuses on advising relationships. For women, there is a significant difference between experiences of advising and mentoring with problematic effects for them. Attrition rates are high for both men and women but the causes of female attrition are unique and possibly related to their mentoring experiences. Mentoring remains largely an informal activity in most graduate departments, and due to the patriarchal nature of graduate education, it has been a predominantly male experience (Lovitts 2001). In this paper, I provide an overview of the different types of advising/mentoring relationships for women in doctoral programs and the benefits of these for them. The paper concludes with a discussion of policy implications for graduate departments, suggestions for future research, and a call for developing and implementing feminist models of mentoring for all graduate students.

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