Women's Career Advancement in Jesuit Higher Education Institutions: Developing Multi-Functioning Mentoring Relationship as a Strategy for Advancement

Ran, Shan, Pamela Zarkowski, and Kathleen Zimmreman-Oster

The goal of the study is to determine the extent to which career advancement barriers for women (e.g. “glass ceiling”, “glass cliff”) are perceived by women and men in institutions that are part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). This study will provide insights about perceptions related to gender based leadership at Jesuit higher education institutions.


In addition, the study seeks to determine if mentoring activities at these colleges and universities contributes to upward mobility and fewer perceived barriers.  AJCU Academic Vice Presidents (AVPs) were invited to encourage employees at their institution to participate in an on line survey.  Thirteen AVPs agreed to distribute the survey to faculty, staff, and administrators via email. The electronic survey consisted of 52 questions addressing four concepts: 1) perception of career advancement, 2) mentoring relationship involvement, 3) career advancement indicators, and 4) demographic information. Initially, four hundred and fifty-four responses were received from nine colleges/universities.  Seventy-five percent of the respondents were women and 25% were men. Preliminary analysis of this sample indicates that women have perceived more disadvantages than men regarding their own career advancement at these institutions. Men’s perceptions about the disadvantages faced by women are not as strong as women’s beliefs.  Preliminary results also indicate that developing a multi-functional mentoring relationship plays an important role in career advancement in Jesuit Universities and Colleges. Women, in particular, can benefit significantly from the mentoring functions of career guide, information source, and psychosocial support.