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The Model Mentor: A Telephone Survey Of Mentoring Experiences Among Women Engineering Faculty

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.566.1 - 3.566.6



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Paper Authors

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Terri Estkowski

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Mary Ann Bowman

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Liwana Bringelson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3592

The Model Mentor: A Telephone Survey of Mentoring Experiences Among Women Engineering Faculty

Terri Estkowski, Liwana Bringelson, Mary Ann Bowman Engineering Management Research Laboratory Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Western Michigan University


In their study of mentoring from the mentor’s perspective, Blackburn, Chapman and Cameron [1] conclude that there are questions left unanswered about mentoring, such as, “What are the attributes of successful mentors” (p. 326). Hunt and Michael [2] provide an extensive list of “Research Issues on Mentorship,” including, “What characteristics must individuals have to be effective as mentors” (p. 484). Merriam [3] writes, “As yet, studies from educational settings reveal no clear notion of how a mentor is different from an influential teacher and, if they can be differentiated, how pervasive mentoring is in this setting” (p. 169).

Based on these suggestions for future study and the Bringelson and Bowman [4] mailed survey results, the following research questions were developed. For a woman engineering faculty member: 1. How prevalent is mentoring? 2. What are the defining characteristics of a good, effective mentor? 3. What functions does a mentor perform in a career enhancing mentoring relationship?

While it is the goal of every research endeavor to provide as complete explanations as possible of the phenomena being examined, one study cannot answer all the questions related to mentoring in higher education. Thus, there are four boundaries placed to govern the scope of this work. First, this study provides no comparison of male and female mentoring experiences. Instead, the research question is approached from the perspective of studying this population in terms of itself and the existing literature base. Second, this research does not explore the link between mentoring and the participants’ feelings of success. Exploring mentoring within the context of the respondent's feelings of career success was avoided to prevent confounding of the data with respect to how the respondents defined success, if in that definition they felt successful, and what role a mentor played in that. Third, this work deliberately excludes some issues associated with hindrances to mentoring. These include men who are afraid to mentor for fear of reprisal (i.e., sexual harassment accusations and the rumor-mill) and the relatively few senior [5, 6] women available to mentor junior women. While these issues are discussed, the focus of this work is on what makes mentoring relationships that help women proteges, rather than on what hinders the initiation of the relationship. Finally, the study throughout avoids defining the term “mentoring.” Jacobi[7] cites 15 different definitions of the word "mentor" from higher education, management and organizational behavior, and psychological literature. Because of the broad range of definitions, it seemed apparent that leading the respondents to any one of them could result in confusion or misinterpretation.

Estkowski, T., & Bowman, M. A., & Bringelson, L. (1998, June), The Model Mentor: A Telephone Survey Of Mentoring Experiences Among Women Engineering Faculty Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7289

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