With recent events, being a woman of color has taken on multiple meanings, and finding support within student affairs has never been more crucial. In order to support their students, women of color must also learn how to seek support from each other. This session seeks to continue valuable conversations on the importance of a strong network and creating a support system for women of color. Panelists from different institutions will speak about their experiences and how their identities as a woman of color and a professional intersect, particularly as mentors and mentees.
When navigating new changes and transitions in one’s professional and personal life, mentorship has provided multiple benefits for the mentor and the mentee (Cooper & Miller, 2002). Research has shown that mentoring has yielded positive results among women of color in higher education, primarily among faculty and among students (Chambers & Bowen, 2014; Tran, 2014). Moreover, mentorship should not only be utilized as a vehicle to increase opportunities for women of color but also as a means of support for women of color once they have arrived at these institutions, thus encouraging longevity in the field of higher education (Duran, 2016).
In this session, participants will learn how Critical Race Theory (CRT) plays an integral role in identity development and how testimonios (or story-telling) becomes the medium to highlight the experiences and relationships among women of color. They will also engage in guided discussion surrounding themes from past research, such as work-life balance and self-care, goal-setting, and managing cultural and social politics in relation to their professional roles. They will hear from female administrators of color who hold different leadership positions at various institutions about their mentoring experiences. At the conclusion, the presenters will summarize the takeaways from the session and share best practices when developing mentorship programs for female professionals of color.
Panelists for this session include:
- Desiree Rieckenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Director, Office of the Dean of Students, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Jessica Cruz, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office, Northern Michigan University
Le'Trice Curl, Director, Student Life and Student Conduct, University of California, Merced
By participating in this session, attendees will:
- learn about existing literature on Critical Race Theory and its influence on mentorship among women of color;
- learn about themes found in the research, how these themes apply to the panelists' experiences as a mentor and mentee, and identify areas for further study;
- hear first-hand accounts from administrators in the field on effective mentorship, and their viewpoints on the responsibilities and expectations of a mentor/mentee through the mode of testimonios and storytelling; and
- be encouraged to continue the conversations at their current institutions, further expanding the network and adding to the needed dialogue of support for women of color.