On Oct. 9, the Women’s Mentoring Network, a program for female faculty and staff to connect and support one another’s career goals, held its kick–off event. The program was developed by Julie Dorsey, associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, after she noticed a lack of opportunities for mid-career women to connect at Ithaca College.
The mentoring network is a crucial addition to the college that is sure to help many integral members of our college community. Despite the progress in recent decades that the college and higher academia as a whole has made for gender equality, academia itself was built for white men. Although the college was founded with men and women faculty members, its female staff and faculty have still suffered from historical disadvantages that have inhibited their progress in the institution and in society at large.
Women staff and faculty often face more gendered demands than their male colleagues. This is a widespread problem that has been recorded in two studies by Amani El-Alayli, associate professor of psychology at Eastern Washington University. The reports and studies are indicative of a greater need for women at the college to connect and support one another, and the mentoring program is a way to fulfill that need.
The fact that the program is geared toward mid-career women is also commendable, considering there is currently little recognition for women in the middle of their careers in higher education. According to a report funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, mid-career women often feel neglected by the institutions they work at. The mentoring program also helps combat this neglect by creating a resource for women to be empowered and maintain momentum in their careers.
The creation of the mentoring program demonstrates that the college community is taking further steps to combat issues that mid-career women and women as a whole face in higher education. Dorsey should be commended for the development of this crucial and integral program for our campus community. The program would not be possible without the funding from one of President Shirley M. Collado’s seed grants, and Collado’s commitment to aiding initiatives that will improve our institution deserves recognition as well.
Women employed at the college should utilize this new resource to support each other during the advancement of their careers. As the program moves forward, the institution should continue to look for ways it can improve the experience of women faculty and staff at the college.