The Culture of Mentoring: Ethnocultural Empathy and Ethnic Identity in Mentoring for Minority Girls

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Objectives: Many mentoring programs place minority group mentees with majority group mentors. These programs aim to promote beneficial outcomes for their diverse participants. The present study explores mentors of color and White mentors’ ethnocultural empathy and ethnic identities in association with their minority group mentees’ ethnic identities. Method: Our study examined 95 mentoring pairs of middle school girls of color and college student women from both majority and minority group cultural backgrounds. Results: A series of linear regressions revealed an association between mentors’ ethnocultural empathy and EI exploration/commitment and minority group mentees’ ethnic identity exploration, regardless of the mentors’ majority group status. Conclusions: The results of this preliminary study suggest that mentors’ cultural identity and empathy may be linked with mentees’ willingness to explore their own ethnic identities. We discuss the implications for mentoring programs that seek to build participants’ ethnic identities and ethnocultural empathy.

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