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Mentorship of Minorities in Research: What is the Problem ?. Keith B. Wilson, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University. Advanced Organizer. HBCUs and Support Question… Demographics: Themes Attrition Defined Mentoring Shortcomings Best Practices . HBCUs.

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Mentorship of minorities in research what is the problem
Mentorship of Minorities in Research: What is the Problem?

Keith B. Wilson, Ph.D.

The Pennsylvania State University

Advanced organizer
Advanced Organizer

  • HBCUs and Support

  • Question…

  • Demographics: Themes

  • Attrition Defined

  • Mentoring Shortcomings

  • Best Practices


  • Research suggests that even in the presence of an extensive set of controls, African-American students experienced significantly greater intellectual growth at HBCU’s as measured both by objective measures of reading comprehension and self-reported measures of gain in understanding the arts and humanities and in understanding science (Flowers & Pascarella, 1999).

Question of the day
Question of the day…

Is there a problem with mentoring minorities in a research capacity?

Attrition defined
Attrition Defined

A gradual reduction in number or strength because of constant stress.

Demographics themes
Demographics: Themes

  • The majority of Blacks in academia have experienced being undermined by colleagues and administration (64% and 58%, respectively), marginalization at department meetings (57%), and professional jealousy (70%) (David & Sutherland, 2008)

  • “The growing body of literature supports the notion that African American students in the US higher education system have unique experiences that differ from other students or color (Allen et al., 2003; Davidson & Foster-Jonson, 2001; fleming, 1984; Fries-Britt & Turner, 2002)

  • Doctoral Degrees

  • African Americans (highest levels of enrollment) and Latinos have the highest attrition rate compared to Asian Americans, International, and European American doctoral students.


  • According to Nettles (1990), African American doctoral students report a greater sense of racial discrimination than Latino/a and European American doctoral students.

Mentoring shortcomings
Mentoring Shortcomings

  • The reality is that minority students often experience less access to mentors and role-models and are more isolated.

  • The authors confirmed that the absence of or poor mentoringare reasons for low representation of minority faculty in higher education (Joseph & Green-Powell, 2009).09

  • Mentorship plays a key role in fostering the success and socialization of minorities in academia (Davis, 2010).

  • .).

Shortcomings continued
Shortcomings Continued…

  • Research suggests that because minority graduate students have to deal with societal pressures and frequent negative stereotypes (and often are a racial token in their department), they need competent and effective mentors that meet their unique and often misunderstood needs (Thomas, Willis, & Davis, 2007).

Microcosm of society
Microcosm of Society

It is reported that many European Americans feel that African Americans are hired solely based on race, in spite of being fully qualified for available positions (Aberson & Haag, 2003). Other groups, namely Black Latinos and Asians show intermediate support, or greater support than European American’s, for affirmative action (Bell, Harrison, & McLaughlin, 1997; Kravitz, 2008).

No love in the academy
No love in the Academy…

  • While every student could benefit from mentoring relationships, the need is even more pressing for women and minorities as they tend to have less contact with faculty and academic role models and it is particularly critical for shaping and raising their expectations about academic careers and preparing for the job market (Girves et al. (2005).

  • In a survey that interviewed African American doctoral students and their White advisors at a predominantly White university. It was reported that:

  • When it came to the construct of race as currency, the African American students saw race primarily as a liability, while the White faculty viewed it as both leverage and liability.

  • Why do you think there is a perception gap regarding the importance of race between African American doctoral students and European American faculty?

Best practices
Best Practices

  • While the apprentice model has been used for years in higher education, it natural to gravitate to students who look and value what you value. NORMAL!

  • Talk about race issues.

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions about race issues. Acknowledge your ignorance…

  • Validate the student’s research interests and experiences.

  • Include the student on in-group conversations that will help s/he succeed in the academy.

  • Represent the student like an in-group person when the student is not around.