The contributions and affects of age on mentoring relationships within an academic setting. (2010)
AuthorsDeering, Katherine Anne Macdonaldshow all
The term mentoring has traditionally been associated with mentors being senior in age and experience. However, as more people are entering the workforce or changing career paths at midlife, it is becoming increasingly common for the mentor to be close in age or younger than their protégé. There has been limited research that has examined the affects and outcomes of non-traditional age relationships in mentoring. The aim of the current study was to shed light on the limited existing literature surrounding the role of age in mentoring. Specifically, it aimed to investigate how age affects mentoring relationships in an academic setting, and what factors may be contributing to this. Participants consisted of students enrolled in postgraduate academic papers (Masters Dissertation, Masters Thesis and PhD) and their assigned academic supervisor. In total, 95 students and 89 supervisors were recruited from three universities with a total of 80 matched student and supervisor pairs. Two surveys were developed, one for postgraduate students and one for their academic supervisors. The student’s survey consisted of demographic questions, a measure of psychosocial and career mentor functions, and a measure of student competence. The supervisor’s survey consisted of demographic information, a measure of psychosocial and career mentor functions, and a measure of human capital investment. The results of the research indicate that within an academic setting, age difference does not have any aversive affects on the processes found in mentoring relationships. In future, mentoring literature needs to expand the conceptualization of mentors and protégés to encompass the increasing existence of varying age relationships. This would enable research to identify the challenges and unique strengths associated with age diversity in mentor relationships.