Importance of mentoring

Posted: October 24, 2010 by Jender in lack of mentoring

I’m a female graduate student close to finishing my PhD in philosophy at a well-regarded school. Lack of friendly, informal encouragement and mentoring from our nearly all-male faculty had been difficult, confidence-eroding for me. From the beginning faculty expected me to interact with them on a formal footing, via arranged office hours and a highly professional, often awkward on my part, “shop talk.” Male grad students enjoyed a much more relaxed exchange in the hallway or over coffee, and most of them quickly found mentors and even friends among the faculty. I had only a couple of female students to commiserate with and have fun talking philosophy with. If it weren’t for my supportive, understanding spouse (also a philosopher, a graduate of different philosophy program) I would have quit after my third year, in spite of excellent “formal” standing in the program. My self-confidence eventually improved once I formed a good working rapport with a supportive dissertation adviser and started attending conferences where I met many wonderful female philosophers.

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