Elements of Effective Mentoring

Attention to Diversity

a cartoon of a diverse group of people with a banner that says "diversity".

All mentoring—but mentoring across racial, gender and other strong cultural differences in particular—is more successful when the mentor is attuned to differences in communication style, perceptions of power and authority, and conflict management styles that often distinguish women and underrepresented minority faculty from their white male counterparts.  In other words, it helps to be culturally competent when mentoring across race and gender differences.

Cultural Competence

  • Openly acknowledge that your experiences in the academy may be markedly different than those of your mentee due to racial, gender or cultural differences;
  • Discuss differences in communication styles, perceptions of power and authority, conflict management styles, and any other cultural factors that might lead to misunderstanding;
  • Express your commitment to helping the mentee navigate the university and the department in ways that are most helpful to him or her.

Implicit Bias

A compelling body of scientific evidence demonstrates that unconscious bias influences the way we perceive and respond to others.  Unconscious beliefs, often incompatible with our conscious values, influence judgments we make in hiring and evaluating peers, as well as selecting leaders.  These implicit biases map to existing social hierarchies and stereotypes, and are held by majority and minority group members alike

Mentors can combat implicit biases in their relationships with mentees by:

  • Taking the Implicit Association Test;
  • Reading about implicit bias;
  • Discussing implicit bias research with colleagues from diverse groups.

Resources for Diversity and Mentoring

More on Effective Mentoring