Mentoring Millennial Women in Academia

Donna A. Blaess, Claudia Santin, Lisa K. Bloom, Kathryn G. Hollywood


The COVID-19 pandemic created a host of simultaneous, ongoing ramifications for institutions of higher education. One of the most prominent and critical is financial. Although increasing retirement among senior faculty and upper level administrators is inevitable, strategies to rapidly reduce personnel costs include early retirement programs. As a result, younger faculty, especially female millennials, may be poised to transition into more active leadership roles. To ensure an effective transition, succession preparedness, including mentoring opportunities, is recommended. Women in higher education continue to be underrepresented in tenured and leadership positions. Millennial women represent a substantial talent pool who are eager for professional development and advancement opportunities as well as a female role models and mentors. Mentoring develops future leaders; fosters cross-generational and cross-campus knowledge transfer; and, contributes to the acquisition of critical organization skills. Administrators can capitalize on the potential benefits by offering up-to-date, institution and incentive-based mentorship training, guidance, and a deliberate curriculum designed to promote excellence. The recent applications of neuroscience research to the mentoring process are substantial. The challenges facing both women mentors and mentees in academia; the collective benefits of mentoring to institutions, mentees, and mentors; and, the contributions of neuroscience to the mentoring process are discussed.

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