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Positively supporting women faculty in the academy through a novel mentoring community model

Amanda Koontz (Department of Sociology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Linda Walters (Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Sarah Edkin (Independent Researcher, Isfahan, Iran)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 25 January 2019

Issue publication date: 25 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which an innovative higher education women’s faculty mentoring community model fosters supportive networking and career-life balance. The secondary goal is to better understand the factors that both promote and limit retention of women faculty at a large, metropolitan university.


The paper examines data from the survey component of an applied research project on understanding and supporting the complex processes of women faculty’s pathways toward self-defined success. Adopting a mixed method research approach, this manuscript focuses on the survey questions related to four key issues related to retention: mentor experiences, gender-based obstacles, a sense of support and community, and goal attainment. In addition to quantitatively examining shifts in perceptions between pre- and post-survey Likert scale questions, the authors performed a qualitative analysis of the supplemental open-ended questions, utilizing a social constructionist lens to further understand perceived influences of the mentoring community on these issues.


The findings revealed qualitatively important shifts in increased awareness surrounding mentoring, gender-based obstacles, interpersonal support, and career-life choices, offering critical insight into the intangible, and thus often difficult to capture, forms of support a mentoring community model can offer women faculty. Findings also reveal how definitions of success can be integrated into community mentoring models to support retention and empowering women faculty.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited by its exploratory nature with one mentoring community cohort. Ongoing implementations are in place to increase the participant size and further test the mentoring model, while future research is encouraged to implement and expand the research to additional higher education institutions.

Practical implications

This research offers a model that can be implemented across higher education institutions for all faculty, along with offering insight into particular points that can be emphasized to increase perceptions of support, offering concrete mentoring options.


This paper contributes to the advancement of mentoring models, helping to address concerns for better supporting and advancing women faculty, with implications for further supporting marginalized faculty. It offers insight into the ways in which a mentoring model can help to address key issues of retention. Additionally, analyzing quantitative and qualitative findings concurrently allowed for insight into areas that may otherwise be overlooked due to seemingly contradictory or non-significant statistical findings.



Koontz, A., Walters, L. and Edkin, S. (2019), "Positively supporting women faculty in the academy through a novel mentoring community model", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 102-117.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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