Writing Groups as Models for Peer Mentorship Among Female Faculty in Political Science
by Erin C. Cassese, West Virginia University, and Mirya R. Holman, Tulane University
Women are underrepresented among political science faculty and “leak from the pipeline” at far greater rates than their male colleagues. Lower research productivity among women is one reason for the declining number of women in advanced academic ranks. Mentoring can provide necessary advice and feedback to encourage scholarly production, but women scholars face challenges in finding and identifying with traditional mentors. We propose that peer mentoring can provide a missing link by supporting research productivity in both direct (e.g., accountability and feedback) and indirect ways (e.g., social support and professional advice). Using a case study of an existing peer-mentoring group, we document how writing groups can flexible mechanisms for mentoring that circumvent the obstacles women face with traditional mentoring arrangements or complement existing mentoring relationships. We discuss the structure of this group and a survey-based assessment of it to show how this approach can be readily adopted by other women in the profession who seek to expand their network of mentors to include peers in their subfield and increase their research productivity and professional satisfaction.