The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the mentoring experiences between female executives and junior women. The research question was: What is the nature of the mentoring relationship between senior women and junior women in organizations? The related questions were: (1) How do mentoring relationships evolve between female executives and junior women? (2) What characterizes the mentoring relationship between senior women and junior women? (3) What are prominent mentoring strategies employed by executive women to foster professional growth of junior women? (4) What mentoring strategies are perceived to be most effective at promoting junior women? (5) Why are particular mentoring strategies perceived to be most effective?
A phenomenological research design was employed to examine the experience of mentoring relationships from the perspective of ten senior executive women and thirteen junior women in the organization. Methods of data collection included in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.
Research findings include the following: (1) All participants indicated that their mentoring experiences were positive and characterized by trust, based on the dimensions of honesty, respect, and confidentially. (2) All participants believed that guidance and encouragement were effective mentoring strategies employed by senior executive women with junior women in their organization. Employment of those mentoring strategies was perceived to result in better career development, greater levels of career maturity and more advancement opportunities for junior women. (3) The mentoring relationship between executive and junior women evolved into either a business relationship or friendship. (4) Senior women also assumed informal mentor roles with junior women in their organization that contributed to learning, career development and advancement opportunities. (5) Senior women recognized that they personally experienced benefits in the form of new skills and perspectives from mentoring junior women in their organization.