Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mentoring is an historically popular way to successfully guide a younger person's talents in a given field. The success of a mentoring relationship relies on close and frequent communication between its participants. When communication breaks down between a mentor and protege the relationship cannot fulfill its mentoring function and is rendered ineffective.

Communication literature asserts that women and men are socialized at very young ages into distinct gender specific communities (Tannen, 1990; Tingley, 1993, and Wood 1994). As a result of the different communication styles used by each gender, interactions between women and men often result in misunderstandings. In mentoring relationships, when communication between participants is vital to the relationship effectiveness, different communication styles, such as those resulting from gender differences, could cause complexities that affect the communication and ultimately the mentoring relationship success.

The collection of data for this study employed qualitive research methods involving telephone interviews with male and female participants (both mentors and proteges) in a formal graduate student-faculty mentoring program at a large university. Results of the study indicate that gender-specific communication style differences are virtually non-existent in such mentoring relationships, and gender plays little, if any, role in the function and success of these graduate student-faculty mentoring relationships.

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