Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Mentoring Asian and Euro-American College Women

Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Mentoring Asian and Euro-American College Women

Article excerpt

This study examines differences in the mentoring relationships of Asian American and Euro-American college women. Findings showed that the groups view mentoring as equally important but that fewer Asians report having a mentor. However, those who have mentors find them to be just as valuable as do their Euro-American counterparts.

Este estudio examina las diferencias en las relaciones de mentoring de mujeres Asiaticas Americanas y Euro-Americanas colegiales. Las conclusiones mostraron que los grupos ven mentoring como igualmente importante pero que menos Asiaticos informan teniendo un mentor. Sin embargo, los que tienen mentores los encuentran que ser apenas tan valioso como lo hacen sus contrapartes de Euro-Americanos.


For young women, relationships with unrelated adults or mentors become increasingly important during later adolescence (Darling, Hamilton, & Niego, 1994). Mentors can contribute to the psychosocial and educational adjustment of adolescents in transition to adulthood, provide emotional support, and assist with professional development (Klaw & Rhodes, 1995; Sullivan, 1996). Mentors are particularly important during college, a period of transition and stress often related to leaving home and preparing for careers after graduation. These transitions can lead to the reduction of social support (Barone, Trickett, Schmid, & Leone, 1993), which may in turn threaten women's sense of belonging and lead to loneliness (Hagerty, Williams, Coyne, & Early, 1996). These transitions may be eased through the support of mentors, especially those who provide emotional support. Indeed, such mentor support may decrease depression (Queen, 1994; Rhodes, Contreras, & Mangelsdorf, 1995) and loneliness (Dietz & Dettlaff, 1997). Furthermore, mentoring that provides emotional and appraisal support may buffer the negative effects of stress (Jacoby, 1991). For these reasons, counseling and school psychologists may do well to help promote mentoring as a preventative alternative to traditional counseling in college populations. Counselors can play a role in educating mentors about characteristics of mentoring relationships that are important for different populations, depending on gender and cultural background.

Just as is the case in counseling relationships, connections with other non-kin adults, particularly with those who become mentors, manifest quite differently across gender (Kalbfleisch & Keyton, 1995). Compared with men, women tend to seek support more frequently, and their relationships tend to be more dyadic, self-disclosing, and intimate (Miller & Stiver, 1997). Hamilton and Darling (1989) found that, compared with young men, young women were more likely to consider non-kin adults as significant in their lives but less likely to describe significant adults as mentors. This gender difference may be due to a difference in how men and women define the concept of "mentor." Sullivan (1996) suggested that the traditional paradigm of mentoring tends to be a hierarchical passing down of advice, role modeling, and socialization. Young women, in contrast, may find more salient a paradigm that also recognizes their psychological needs and resources. This new conceptualization of mentoring reflects theoretical literature on women's development that identifies relational qualities that women consider growth-fostering: reflecting mutuality, feeling empowered to take action, acquiring an increased knowledge of self and others, gaining a greater sense of self-worth and validation, increasing desire for connection, and being able to deal with conflict (Miller & Stiver, 1997). Liang, Tracy, Taylor, and Williams (2002) found relational mentoring--mentoring characterized by growth-fostering characteristics--to be associated with various benefits for college women.

Some research suggests that, in addition to gender differences, cultural differences seem to play an even greater role in the expectation, attainment, and experience of mentoring (Grant-Thompson & Atkinson, 1997; Kalbfleisch & Davies, 1991). …

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