The Influence of Same-Sex and Cross-Sex Mentors on the Professional Development and Personality Characteristics of Women in Human Services
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counseling and Personnel
Dr. Edward L. Trembley
Dr. Robert Betz
Dr. Joetta Long
The purpose of this study was to investigate mentoring relationships and to compare women's relationships with male and female mentors. Data were collected from 20 women (10 with male mentors and 10 with female mentors) with master's degrees or higher in social work, psychology, or counseling and working a minimum of 20 hours per week providing psychological services. Two instruments were administered to all of the subjects: the Standard Adjective Q Sort (SAQS), and the short form of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI). These instruments provided measures of the amount of agreement between actual and ideal professional self-perceptions and personality configurations, respectively. All the subjects were also given structured interviews. The data obtained from these instruments were analyzed by means of t tests for independent samples (p < .05), while the structured interviews were subject to content analysis procedures and in turn tested for significance by the use of Mann Whitney U tests (p < .10).
The data obtained from the SAQS indicated that the male-mentored and female-mentored women did not differ significantly in the amount of agreement between their actual and ideal professional self-descriptions (t = .24; p = .408). Only 1 of the 18 scales of the CPI provided significant differentiation between the two groups. The women with male mentors scored consistently higher on the Dominance scale (t = 3.01; p < .05), indicating that these women were more likely to be viewed as assertive, independent, and having leadership potential.
The structured interview provided information regarding the development of the mentoring relationships. The pattern of development reported by these women appeared similar, with one exception, to that discussed by Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, and McKee (1978) for men. The majority of women in this sample tended to continue some type of relationship with their mentors, particularly the female mentors, after their mentoring needs were filled, which contradicted Levinson et al.'s point. They indicated that men's same-sex mentoring relationships often ended with one or both individuals being dissatisfied with the relationship. Women with male mentors reported a greater need for a more personal or friendship aspect in the mentoring relationships than the women with female mentors.
Only one of the seven hypotheses regarding differences between the male and female mentoring relationships was found to be significant, but it was in the opposite direction of that predicted. Women having male mentors made a significantly greater number of positive statements regarding their mentor's influences on their integration of feminine and professional self-concepts (Mann Whitney U = 29.0; p = .06). The six hypotheses not found to significantly differentiate the two groups were the following: number of academic difficulties; number of needs met; number of personal qualities that facilitated and hindered the development of the mentoring relationship; and number of positive statements regarding the mentor's influences on integrating family and career, and overall professional development.
Based on this information, there appear to be few differences between same- and cross-sex mentoring relationships of the women included in this sample of professional women in terms of the majority of variables examined in this study. However, one must be cautious in interpreting these results because of possible confounding influences from other variables such as supervisory style, availability, age, marital status, social/cultural, and professional differences between the two groups which could possibly explain the results. The need for more stringent controls is discussed and further research is recommended.
Charlesworth Quinn, Barbara Jean, "The Influence of Same-Sex and Cross-Sex Mentors on the Professional Development and Personality Characteristics of Women in Human Services" (1980). Dissertations. 2615.