Improving Mentoring Relationships between Faculty and Minority Graduate Students

This workshop aims to improve mentoring relationships between faculty and minority graduate students. Mentorship has been shown to Pic_Ray3be instrumental for current and future career success among graduate students. Similar to other dimensions of social life, higher education is stratified along gender and race lines with these master statuses playing important roles in the success, tenure, and promotion of women and racial/ethnic minorities within academia. My previous research has shown that minority graduate students, and minority women in particular, perceive having less respectful advisors and receiving less instrumental support than White graduate students. This workshop will address ways to reduce this racial and gender gap in the mentoring experiences of graduate students, discuss how various mentoring styles conform to the expectations of minority graduate students, and enhance faculty’s sensitivity to how their interpersonal relations with students are perceived. This dialogue will hopefully lead to more positive interpersonal communication between faculty and students.


The Center for Teaching Excellence in partnership with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Graduate School are offering a letter of completion to any UMD faculty, staff, or graduate students who attend four out of five workshops, and complete a short pre-workshop reading and reflection.  For this workshop, the article can be found here (Link to article). Pages 898-906 are the most relevant to this discussion. Please reply to this post to post your reflection.  If you would prefer to post your reflection under a pseudonym, please do so, but let CTE know who you are if you would like to receive a letter of completion at the end of the workshop series.


If you have not already RSVP’d for this workshop, you can do so here.

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5 Responses to Improving Mentoring Relationships between Faculty and Minority Graduate Students

  1. Zackary Hull says:

    This article is very interesting, but the study results are, unfortunately, not surprising. The complicated system of privilege makes working with its various dimensions (e.g., race) a challenging issue, especially in academia. As an advisor, I seek to learn more about how I can make the advising experience more fulfilling for all my students as they work toward their goals.

    I would be interested to see future studies explore how the racial and gender identities of advisors impacts the level of support students feel.

  2. Neeraja Dashaputre says:

    This paper had three central aims, to explore whether race and gender are a criteria that affect how graduate students perceive their advisor. Secondly, if women of color face a genuine disadvantage as compared to others. And last, if discipline affect the perception of primary and secondary advisors.
    According to the findings, student of color report that they receive a less respectful treatment by their primary advisor, and women of color suffer the most, regarding a respectful- interpersonal the treatment from their primary advisor. However, they report to have a more understanding secondary advisor. The secondary advisor is most of the times, these students seek out a minority faculty who can relate to them better.
    While reading the this study I kept on thinking about what is the advisors say on this. It would be helpful to know if the advisors agree or disagree to the findings. It would also be helpful if minority advisors report their views about the studies.
    It is indeed disturbing that women of color still can face a disrespectful treatment from their advisors. There is a higher chance that the faculty believes that they are incapable of succeeding, as indicated this can have dire consequences for the current and future outcomes of women of color in graduate studies.
    It is assumed that faculty is impartial, and treats all students equally, but interpersonal relations are difficult to quantify and measured. The authors does recommend conducting seminars for all faculty that focus on developing positive interpersonal relations with the students.

  3. JK says:

    I was able to relate to some of the findings and the points that the authors made in their discussion and contributions sections. As a female graduate student of color, I also have a secondary advisor who has more background and experiences that align with mine.
    I also found that the authors paid attention to the interpersonal aspect of student-advisor relationship that goes beyond material support. Along the same line, how they defined an instrumental advisor was also interesting. It was not only about academic support, but also about guiding you through the process of becoming a memeber of the professional community.
    What I wonder is how these experiences of graduate students of color compare to white students. Since this is about perceptions, I think there might be some level of subjectivity working. I wonder whether we, female grad students of color, have higher expectations on our advisors? Or do we tend to rely more on our advisors for support, possibly due to the relative lack of social/cultural capital (e.g. know-how on navigating the system that might be learned from family members who have been in a graduate program)? It would be interesting to see how experiences of different groups compare.

  4. Tuesday Barnes says:

    The pervasiveness of the “interlocking effects of gender and race” across disciplines for women of color was very compelling (Turner & Myers, 2000, p.106) . I found it interesting that students in the biological and physical sciences perceive their primary and secondary advisors as only providing instrumental support. More importantly, that there is a common experience from women of color feeling unsupported and possibly unvalued both within their discipline and across disciplines.
    I found it interesting that “within the social sciences and humanities, women of color report having less respectful primary advisors compared with white men, white women, and men of color”(Noy & Ray, 898). This lead me to question how women of color navigate these both gender and racially stratified spaces in a way that allows them to acknowledge both feelings of race and gender discrimination. Crenshaw’s (2000) made a great point in stating that “race and gender converge so that the concerns of minority women fall into the void between concerns about women’s issues and concerns about racism,” and consequently, the voices of these women are often unheard (Crenshaw 1991, p.1282).
    Adopting an intersectionality framework, however, allows us to see how race and gender work interdependently. It was interesting, then, that the article found that white women were the most advantaged of all the groups surveyed being that white women also interact with the dual identity of being female and white. I think that if anything, it called into question how non-white female identities are treated not only in graduate education but also in a larger context of our society. More importantly, it made me question the kind of value and priority that white female graduate students may receive in contrast to their non-white female graduate counterparts.

  5. Jonathan Senn, Jr. says:

    The article tackles the pervasive issue of discrimination in the workplace, specifically academia and graduate programs. The tone of the article was palatable, where the authors did not blame one group or another for discrimination, nor did they present historically marginalized groups as victims. Inherent privilege is afforded to certain groups of people, and this lack of privilege, compounded with opinions, stereotypes, and societal portrayals, is the issue that the authors seek to address.

    The idea that one has to work significantly harder to achieve the same success is not an unfathomable claim for persons of color (POC), women, or individuals of the LGBT community. I have experienced, heard, and read accounts of such instances in academia, so the focus of the article was very profound to me. Furthermore, the significance of women of color (WOC) as an intersection of marginalization in academia presents the problem that people generally relate more with individuals of similar backgrounds, and with a lack of WOC in academia, experiences can be less beneficial. Simply having marginalized individuals in an academic program doesn’t erase echoes of past policies nor does it ameliorate discrimination, latent or explicit; supporting all individuals in these programs is the issue at hand, and this article does an excellent job of framing the problem, as well as potential solutions.

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