Mentoring Digital Narratives
Though certainly not all, some women prefer to have women mentors because "only women can truly empathize with the experience of being a woman" (Duff, 1999, p. 4). Compiling the positive effects of these mentoring relationships in digital format does not only attempt to recover the voices of rhetorical agents engaged in female-to-female mentorship, but also serve as action-oriented artifacts that go beyond spatial and temporal domains toward replication, promotion, etc. Blair (2014) noted the importance of chronicling women's experiences grounded in personal conditions/histories, while Dillingham-Evans (2013) advocated for broadcasting female mentoring successes through narratives. Altogether, these claims further support the necessity of a mentoring digital narratives project initiated by the DSU Women's Resource Center (WRC) under my leadership.
To elicit critical awareness for agency reforms, the digital collection showcased in WRC's webpage was patterned after Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) and Women's Lives in the Profession Project by CCCC Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. The sample videos document situated feminist practices in multivariate frameworks and assorted literacies, experiences, and networks (Walker, 2012) intersecting with "narrative as a mode of knowing" (Rutten & Soetaert, 2013). Part of preserving mentoring narratives digitally is to make clear how theory and practice operate reflexively over differing focal points. In the context of WRC's project, four complementary reasons (Duff, 1999) back same-sex mentoring relationships with the following mentee videos/transcripts* (see below):
*All videos/transcripts are available for promotional purposes in the DSU Women's Resource Center mentoring site.
⚫ "A place to be whole" (Duff, 1999, p. 4). Women mentors help mentees discover their full potential. Empathy, reciprocity, and care abound for participants to learn important life skills, make better decisions, and perform better overall. Lyndsey relates how she persisted in reaching her goals because her mentor believed in her capacity and gave her the encouragement she needed at that time. (Transcript)
⚫ "A place to be authentic" (Duff, 1999, p. 5). Women mentors allow mentees to feel safe and comfortable in sharing their thoughts, expressing their feelings, and just being themselves. It is important for both parties to bring authenticity to the table in order to become more receptive and confident. Charity narrates her experience as a student mom who overcame her crossroads by reaching out to supportive mentors. (Transcript)
⚫ "Women know the waters" (Duff, 1999, p. 6). Women mentors know best what other women go through, especially when it comes to facing challenges that affect productivity, satisfaction, and accomplishments. Essentially, those who had been there know how to navigate through the waters to either ride the wave or reach the shore. Haylie talks about how her mentor provided valuable guidance to prepare for a career in tech, a predominantly male-oriented industry. (Transcript)
⚫ "Women can help you move ahead" (Duff, 1999, p. 8). Women mentors serve as great resources for getting practical academic and professional development skills. Instead of doing things alone, those who have mentors are exposed to more opportunities and moral support. Lacy shares the multiple benefits of having a mentor as an undergrad, such as getting help with graduate school applications. (Transcript)
More stories, accounts, and testimonies about (wo)mentoring are found in WRC's digital collection site. Here, we see the complexities of each relationship archived to elevate women and higher education in southern Utah. Disseminating these narratives on campus will hopefully generate more interest among local women to pursue tertiary education, knowing others are there to provide help, resources, and the agency to affect change.
NOTE: Figure 4 shows a compilation of all mentoring digital narratives in WRC's webpage; click on image below to access the public videos.