Ch. 2: Mentoring Women in Educational Leadership through the Dissertation Process: A College Professor's Thoughts and Experiences
From the Book: The Refractive Thinker® Vol XI: Women in Leadership


The purpose of this study was to explore how a female doctoral student describes her relationship with the female faculty academic mentor assigned to her during the dissertation writing process. Moreover, this study sought to determine if the benefits of the academic mentor-mentee relationship were fundamental in helping the candidate navigate through the dissertation writing process, and ultimately graduate with a doctorate degree. Nearly 50% of doctoral candidates fail to earn the degree (Butin, 2010; Council of Graduate Schools PhD Completion Project, 2008). Holmes, Danner, Gibson, and Woods (2016) reported on a study conducted by Bair and Haworth (1999) that the dissertation process is a common cause of attrition among doctoral students.
The researcher used open-ended survey questions to capture the lived experiences of the subject in this study. The responses to the questions served as data for answering the central research question. An analysis of the major themes and the subthemes, as well as the overlapping themes, and the number of times the participant mentioned the themes in the responses was the procedure used for assigning meaning to the data.
Subject A articulated the following valued characteristics when describing her relationship with her academic mentor: dedication, commitment, sense of comfort, openness, good listener, effective communicator, and honesty. The Subject credited the following successes to her relationship with the female faculty academic mentor: improved performance in the dissertation writing process as the relationship with the mentor forbade anything less than professional writing; and remaining in the program and not transferring or giving up. The recurring themes in this study indicated the importance of acquiring an academic mentors for many women who are trudging through the dissertation writing process; and second, these same recurring themes showed how fundamental a positive relationship between the mentor and mentee can be in completing a doctorate.
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