The contribution of mentoring to the retention of women in an American aerospace corporation

by McPhaul, Donnis L., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2009, 186 pages; 3344900


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore one of the gaps in the mentoring literature as it relates to women employed in a male-dominated industry, specifically, the aerospace industry. The research focused on understanding how mentoring contributed to retaining women in an American aerospace corporation. This qualitative study utilized two qualitative data collection instruments, in-depth interviews, and participant observation, to explore the perspectives from 20 mentors and their mentees related to their participation in a formal mentoring program. The semistructured interview questions asked mentor and mentee participants how mentoring contributed to the mentees' career growth and development, how organizational conditions helped or hindered mentoring, to identify the most and least valuable aspects of mentoring, to identify barriers to mentoring for women, what barriers might exist in cross-gender mentoring, and how the mentoring program might be improved. Most importantly, mentors and mentees were asked how mentoring contributed to retaining women in the aerospace industry. Furthermore, the study asked mentor participants to describe their duties as a mentor and the benefits their organizations gain by mentoring women. Mentee participants were asked to describe an effective mentor and why it is important to work for a company that encourages mentoring for women. In addition, a review of the literature identified factors as related to mentoring women in corporations. Finally, participant observation afforded the researcher the ability to triangulate data by comparing and cross-checking the data with what the researcher was told during in-depth interviews to what the researcher observed during two mentoring meetings. The researcher was able to examine the difference between what was important to mentors and their mentees through semistructured, open-ended questions and how they interacted during mentoring meetings. The researcher noticed other important similarities between information obtained through in-depth interviews and participant observations. Both data collection tools presented the importance of effective communication in mentoring, the sharing of personal experiences, creation of a learning environment, encouragement of continued education and training, and identification of the mentees' strengths and weaknesses.

AdviserJohn Herr
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsWomen's studies; Management
Publication Number3344900

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