Managers, Mentoring, and Moving Up: The Role of Mentoring in Women's Career Advancement in the Chemical Industry

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2008-05-13

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The underrepresentation of women in White male-dominated science and technology fields (STEM) has been documented, with special attention on the lack of women's advancement within these fields, including industry (NSF, 2004; Fassinger, 2001; Fassinger, 2002). Mentoring has been shown to be a key variable in the career advancement of both men and women. Lack of mentoring for women also has been demonstrated as a barrier to career advancement (Fassinger & Hensler-McGinnis, 2005). The chemical industry is the largest employer of U.S. scientists and therefore represents an important testing ground for identifying barriers and facilitative factors, such as access to mentoring, that could impact women's career success in this arena (NSB, 2000). Managers represent an untapped mentoring resource for women trained in science and engineering working in industrial chemistry. This study sought to better understand how managers think about mentoring and women's advancement within their field. Specifically, results suggest that managers' experiences with mentoring may have some influence on their perceptions of mentoring more generally, and that their perceptions of gender may be linked to their beliefs about mentoring for women in the workplace.

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