The practice of mentoring dates back centuries, to Homer’s The Odyssey, the story of the Trojan War, and the journey of Telemachus and his trusted advisor, Mentor. Since then, the term “mentor” has become synonymous with coach, trusted advisor and friend. The dominant discourse surrounding the theory and practice of mentoring in modern research centers on men and their role within a given relationship. The purpose of this project is to examine the effects of mentoring in the American political arena, particularly as it applies to women and historically marginalized identities previously omitted from this area of research. Seven semi-structured feminist interviews were conducted with women serving at various levels of elected office, in order to gain insight into the ways women in United States politics engage in mentoring relationships, and determine the extent to which this mirrors the androcentric literature. Through the analysis of interview transcriptions, the women’s experiences indicated that while the mentoring process mirrored that of men, the relationships formed and advising that took place was conducted in a very different. Though all experiences and stories were unique, every woman interviewed emphatically believed that intentional, institutionalized mentoring would be a strong first step towards narrowing the gender gap at all levels of politics.


Moskowitz, Eric

Second Advisor

Craven, Christa


Political Science; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies


Mentoring, Gender, Career Success, Intersectionality, Politics, Interviews, Feminist Research

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Emily Dean-McKinney