The Application of Relational Cultural Theory to Mentoring of Feminist Academics

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Conference Proceeding


Drawing upon the Stone Center Relational Cultural Theory, presenters will explore the significance and power of mentoring episodes in sustaining and enriching feminist social work educators. Social work educators who identify as feminists often find themselves feeling isolated in the academy and longing for connection (Logan & Finn, 2011). The need for mentoring relationships for women in academia, in particular, has been voiced by scholars in a range of disciplines such as geography, counseling psychology, and social work (Moss et al., 1999; Rayle et al., 2006; Wilson, Valentine, & Pereira, 2002). Relational Cultural Theory (RCT), developed in the 1970s, is basically a theory of human development that emphasizes the perspective that individuals grow in relationship with one another and that both parties benefit ( Jordan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver, & Surrey, 1991; Miller, 2004). RCT has expanded and can be applied to all human interactions, with cultural contexts being a necessary consideration in understanding these connections. Applying the lens of RCT to mentoring interactions highlights the benefits of such relationships to both parties. These encounters may be serendipitous and unexpected and are not always understood or appreciated in the moment. Over time and upon reflection, however, these episodic encounters may provide a 'safety net' for those involved. It is important to articulate clearly not only the benefits of relational mentoring episodes but also the components of such relationships, so that this information can be shared and used to mentor both faculty colleagues and students who need support within the academy.

Publication Title

6th Annual Proceedings: Impact and Effectiveness of Developmental Relationships.

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