women v. men mentors

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospamsalk.edu
Thu Dec 4 14:33:54 EST 1997


> JuneKK (junekk at aol.com)

> I'm curious as to whether you perceive a difference in
> the effectiveness of mentoring between women and men mentors-- that
> those who are studying under women mentors are less apt to succeed
> because they do not have the same network/support? 

For the sake of my students and postdocs, I certainly hope
not.  I do think it would be hard to determine the effects of 
working for a  young person, who by definition isn't plugged in,
vs. gender--after all, most women mentors are young.  The 
people in my lab have therefore taken a much bigger risk
working for me than for the Big Name down the hall quite apart
from gender.  I  actually don't know enough people 
who trained with  women  to be able to judge a gender 
difference in how their careers  turned out.

My point in my previous post was really (naturally, I guess)
about people in my position--a women junior faculty member
who must rely on men for mentoring.   I don't see anything wrong
with that in an ideal world, because mentoring *should* be 
gender neutral, but my experience and observations suggest
that it is not.  And, there just aren't enough senior women 
to fill in the gaps.  

> I wonder if this has anything to do with a recent finding that women
> who study under women mentors have a higher rate of attrition in
> science than those studying under men mentors; reported at the time
> as being because (paraphrasing): "women see the lifestyle of women
> mentors and the fact they have no life, etc..." (I remember seeing
> this in the Random Samples section of Science earlier this year,
> although I don't recall the authors of the study just now...)

I remember after I started my faculty job one of the female postdocs
on the floor came into my office and said, "Thanks to you,
and what you are going through, I realize that I don't want 
to have your job or be like you."  I guess that makes me an 
anti-role model...?

-- 
-susan
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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 
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