Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 143–157 | Cite as

Changing Institutional Culture through Peer Mentoring of Women STEM Faculty

  • Nicole ThomasEmail author
  • Jill Bystydzienski
  • Anand Desai


Higher education institutions often use mentoring to socialize faculty members into their academic disciplines and to retain them. Mentoring can also be used to change organizational culture to meet the needs of historically marginalized faculty members. In this article we focus on peer mentoring circles for women STEM faculty at a large, midwestern research university. Participants reported diverse, context-dependent mentoring needs and expressed interest in communicating issues raised in the circles to administrative leaders. A workshop for circle participants and administrators led subsequently to college-wide teams that addressed problems identified in the circles. We conclude that peer mentoring as a means to facilitate institutional change has great potential.


Peer mentoring circles Culture change Women STEM faculty Higher education 



We want to thank Anne Massaro, a co-principal investigator on this project, for helping to organize the peer mentoring circles, collecting some of the data, following up with the participants, and helping with data analysis. This research was supported in part by funding from the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Grant 0811123. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the NSF.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jill Bystydzienski
    • 2
  • Anand Desai
    • 1
  1. 1.John Glenn School of Public AffairsThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality StudiesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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