Public Release: 

Mentoring to meet the national need

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

A study published in the current issue of Journal of Social Issues reviews the benefits and most effective mentoring strategies that promote educational and career advancement for minorities. Fourteen conditions, including student conferences, networking, and continuous assessment of the program are cited as instrumental for the development and maintenance of successful mentoring programs. "Structured programs are necessary in academic settings to ensure access to mentoring relationships, to provide support and resources that foster productive relationships, and to recognize and reward the efforts of those who participate in mentoring activities," authors Jean E. Girves, Yolanda Zepeda, and Judith K. Gwathmey state. Within the article, they examine four successful programs that confront the disproportionate numbers of students of color and low-income students who drop out of higher education.

The authors view mentoring as an effective strategy to improve the retention of college students and faculty from fields where, historically, under representation has occurred and to aid to minority students, first generation students, and women in engineering and the sciences. For example, a 2000 Census found that White non-Hispanics earn bachelor's degrees at twice the rate of under-represented minority groups. In the recommendations, mentoring provides more goal-setting and the standardization of development skills. The entire process is intentionally designed to be supportive, nurturing, and protective. An additional component is having mentors discuss the genealogy so mentees understand how they belong within the long history of the discipline. "Providing equal access to higher education for all racial and ethnic groups is necessary to ensure opportunities for academic achievement of all groups, but is not sufficient to ensure proportionate outcomes," the authors conclude.


This study is published in the current issue of Journal of Social Issues. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article please contact

Journal of Social Issues brings behavioral and social science theory, empirical evidence, and practice to bear on human and social problems. Each issue of the journal focuses on a single topic - recent issues, for example, have addressed poverty, housing and health; privacy as a social and psychological concern; youth and violence; and the impact of social class on education. It is published on behalf of The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Jean E. Girves is the director of the Ohio Science and Engineering Alliance, which is part of the National Science Foundation's Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.

Dr. Girves is available for questions and interviews.

Yolanda Zepeda is the assistant director of Graduate Education and Diversity at Ohio State University. Ms. Zepeda is available for questions and interviews.

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