Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Teri E. Lassiter, Ph.D.


science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, mentoring, cross-mentoring, underrepresented minority (URM), mentoring functions


Over the years, women have made significant strides in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Nevertheless, women continue to be underrepresented at the graduate and academic career entry levels, and minority women continue to lag behind Whites in navigating the pipeline to an academic career in the STEM disciplines. In sociology for instance, women overall are well represented at the BA level, but experience a steep decline when moving to doctoral education and then into subsequent academic careers. Numerous explanations have been advanced by educators and researchers to explain the dearth of underrepresented minority (URM) female doctoral students. Mentoring has been found to be one factor that shapes success, but has heretofore been less accessible to women, in particular, URM women. Rankins, Rankins and Inniss (2014) noted that there are far fewer faculty women of color who can provide female students with sufficient access to same gender and/or race role models during the mentoring process.

The purpose of this quantitative study, which employed a survey, was to increase our understanding of the extent to which doctoral students gain access to mentoring and the role of gender and race in the dynamics of formal and informal mentoring in preparation for entrance into the post-doctoral job market. The sample for this study was drawn from doctoral and post-doctoral student members of two national sociological associations in the United States. The findings of this study are specific to this target group and are not generalizable to other STEM-related fields.

The two outcomes variables in this study reflect two phases of the analysis. In the first phase, the study examined demographic congruence (gender and race) between mentor-mentee and the amount and functional type of mentoring received. The second phase investigated the effect of demographic mentor-mentee congruence and the amount and functional type of mentoring received on career outcomes.

The findings highlight that the role of the dissertation chair extends beyond providing academic or professional guidance, but also provides psychological and role model support; however, most doctoral students continue to rely on multiple mentoring networks to navigate the doctoral program. Although, doctoral students in “homogeneous” mentoring relationships accrued the most benefits and those in “heterogeneous” relationships accrued the least benefits, students in “mixed” relationships often fared well; however, mixed by gender was more advantageous than mixed by race. Lastly, respondents reporting demographic congruence with their dissertation chair, and/or primary source of academic/professional support were more likely to report change in their anticipated career path since entry into the doctoral program; and that change was in the direction of greater likelihood of pursuing academic versus non-academic career options.

It is hoped that findings from this study will encourage institutions to provide resources that will optimally assist doctoral students in preparation for their future career paths. This is necessary since doctoral students, especially minority students, are often found to be in mixed mentoring relationships due to the lack of access to mentors of the same gender and race. It is furthermore important for doctoral students as well as institutions to understand that the role of the dissertation chair is complex, and extends beyond immediate academic/professional needs. Finally, this study examined the importance of congruence of mentor-mentee relationships and how they impact the direction of doctoral students’ anticipated career paths.