Georgia Tech Mentoring Program for Faculty Advancement (Case Study 1)

Mentoring Faculty Women

The Georgia Tech Mentoring Program for Faculty Advancement is an integrated institutional program for supporting women’s full participation and advancement, and for modeling best practices.

The program has three aspects:

  1. An interactive, game-like tool, “Navigating Your Career,” (developed by Advance Director, Dr. Carol Colatrella; Individual faculty members use the tool for academic career guidance.

  2. Mentoring and career coaching. Faculty members apply and are paired with mentors in their own department. Mentors help new faculty members acclimate. They assist with and advise on decisions about teaching, research, and service roles, and about developing successful networks within the faculty. Faculty members may also participate in voluntary, periodic career coaching with a mentor outside their college. For the coaching sessions, faculty members select from a group of “coaches” who are available for that session.

  3. Cross-college workshops on topics including “Interdisciplinary Grants,” “What Makes a Proposal Fundable,” “Family-Work Practices,” and “Career Planning for Faculty.”

Tenured and tenure-track faculty are the primary population for this program. All faculty members are eligible to participate in all aspects of the program, with the exception of the career coaching. Only women faculty members are eligible for career coaching sessions.

The program has not been assessed yet, although evaluation is fully integrated. The chief criterion of success is “faculty advancement”—an increase in the number of female faculty members who reach senior rank and administrative positions, if desired, at Georgia Tech. An external evaluator will assess the overall Georgia Tech ADVANCE program using a set of indicators for participation and advancement of faculty. Data for specific assessment of user experience with the “Navigating Your Career” web-based instrument is conducted via a short questionnaire built into this mentoring tool. More general assessment data will be collected via a survey of all Georgia Tech faculty members. This survey includes questions for measuring level of awareness of, and participation in, ADVANCE activities and initiatives. Continuing outcome assessments will compare the participation and advancement of faculty who did, and faculty who did not participate in the mentoring (and other) ADVANCE programs.



One of the challenges of providing mentoring opportunities is that this research university is “decentralized” into departments (as are other peer institutions). Reaching faculty and chairs at the departmental-level involves working through levels of the Colleges and the Schools (departments) within them. Owing to this decentralization, the “impacts” of mentoring programs will vary by department.

Implementing the Georgia Tech Mentoring Program for Faculty Advancement requires commitment by diverse groups and by institutional leaders. For faculty to use the interactive tool, they need information about it and access to it. This information and access is available through department chairs and deans, as well as faculty peers. For faculty to participate in the one-on-one mentoring, their unit chairs/heads must commit to creating and managing the mentoring. In addition, chairs/heads need to signal how important the mentoring is for faculty development. The cross-college mentoring requires that university administration be involved to plan, facilitate, and support the workshops. Although cross-college workshops could be run by faculty representatives from individual units, our experience has shown that support of such efforts at the upper-level institute administration signals the importance of mentoring for the university’s goals of advancing faculty.

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Authors: Lecia Barker and J. McGrath Cohoon