Advancing Faculty Diversity Through Self-Directed Mentoring
22 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2017 Last revised: 3 Feb 2018
Date Written: April 17, 2017
Mentoring is widely acknowledged to be important in career success, yet may be lacking for female and minority law professors, contributing to disparities in retention and promotion of diverse faculty. This Article presents the results of a unique diversity mentoring program conducted at one law school. Mentoring is often thought of as something directed by the mentor on behalf of the protégé. Our framework inverts that model, empowering diverse faculty members to proactively cultivate their own networks of research mentors. The studied intervention consisted of modest programming on mentorship, along with supplemental travel funds to focus specifically on travel for the purpose of cultivating mentors beyond one’s own institution. Participants were responsible for setting their own mentorship goals, approaching mentors and arranging meetings, and reporting annually on their activities and progress. Both quantitative and qualitative evidence demonstrate that the program has been effective along its measurable goals in its first year. Participants report growing their networks of mentors, receiving significant advice on research and the tenure process, and being sponsored for new opportunities. The authors conclude that this type of mentoring initiative, if more broadly applied, could have a significant impact on reducing disparities in retention and promotion in the legal academy. To facilitate such replication, the Article describes both the process of designing the program and the actual operation of the program as carried out at one school. In sum, the Article offers a concrete starting point for discussions at any law school interested in advancing faculty diversity through improved mentoring.
Keywords: legal education, law school, academia, higher education, diversity, mentoring, women's studies, gender, race, empirical studies, policy
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