The role of race and ethnicity in mentoring relationships | Bernadette Sanchez

The role of race and ethnicity in mentoring relationships | Bernadette Sanchez


Thank you, all. I’m really excited to be here today to speak to you all about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. And I thank the Mentoring Partnership, The Applied Research Collaborative, the Center for Youth Development, and BBBS of Twin Cities, who’ve all come together to create this event and the series, which I think is really important for the work that we’re doing with youth. You know, a lot of people seem really excited to talk about diversity issues and mentoring, and the reality is that the mentoring field is actually pretty young. And the main question that researchers have been trying to answer is, Does mentoring work? And now they’re starting to ask: Under what situations? When does it work, and for whom? And most recently, researchers have started to ask about diversity issues such as race, ethnicity and gender. And there’s very little research on this topic, so a lot of what I’m going to talk about today I’m going to be drawing from research in other areas and applying it to youth-adult relationships. And I will discuss a little bit about some research that I have been able to do, and some work that I’ve been collaborating with a colleague in Chicago, where we’ve been trying to make a program culturally- and developmentally- and gender-specific for girls in Chicago. The title of the presentation, “Mentoring ain’t One-Size-Fits-All” so the reality is, you know, a lot of times when we get into mentoring and when when the
when people think about mentoring they think about this one-on-one relationship and you
might have a conceptualization of what this relationship should look like, but the reality
is that when we bring youth from different contexts and mentors from different contexts,
sometimes what we might intend to do might not necessarily fit with the communities we’re
working with, and you know, I’ll talk about some of the race/ethnicity issues and some
of the other diversity issues. And of course all the work that I’ve done
has never been done in isolation there have been a number of students who’ve worked with
me over the years, who’ve helped me in some of the research that I’m going to be presenting
today, and also I’ve had a number of mentors myself who’ve also helped me in thinking about
my work. So what I’m going to talk about primarily
is race, ethnicity and culture issues and mentoring, but I will discuss a little bit
about gender and development. So I know in the reading that you got for
today we talk about race, ethnicity, and culture, gender and development. I’ll focus more on the race, ethnicity and
culture, but I will mention in the end, talk a little bit about some of the research on
gender and development and how on we can apply it to youth mentoring. I wanted to start off by looking at a case
study of a young girl in a mentoring relationship. So Anna is a sixteen-year-old Latina who lives
in Chicago. Her parents immigrated to the US from El Salvador
for economic opportunities and to provide their children with a better life. Her mom decides to put in a mentoring program
because Anna has been misbehaving at school. Anna is matched up with Ellen, a middle-class
white woman who lives in the suburbs and is a lawyer. During one of their outings Anna and Ellen
talk about college. When Ellen asked her where she wants to go
to school, Anna named some local colleges. Ellen tells her that she should think about
going to school out of state, she can learn to be independent. Anna doesn’t think her parents will be okay
with that. Ellen then states that it’s really important
that Anna fulfills her dreams and not worry too much about her parents. So, okay! So I see you guys laughing. So what are some what are some cultural values
that are being displayed here? You can call it out. Okay white privilege. What else? Independence, so we seethe value for independence
in Ellen. Family. So for Anna, her value for family, so she’s
kind of hesitant, you know, “I don’t know what my parents are going to say about that.” And then what are some potential conflicts
that might occur because of these different values that we see being displayed here? Okay so there might be some conflict you know
in the relationship itself, so Ellen is giving her advice about where she should go to school
and you know, Ellen has very good intentions, you know, she’s trying to help, you know she
wants her to maybe think, you know, beyond her horizons of what she’s been envisioning
for her future. But then you know, let’s imagine she goes
home a says, “You know, Ellen thinks that I should go to school you know, in Minnesota
instead!” Her parents will say, “What? Are you crazy? You’re not leaving us!” You know, and potentially, you know, maybe
the family might might see Ellen as breaking up, trying to break up the family, even though
that’s not what Ellen was trying to do. Or maybe Anna might feel uncomfortable about
talking about certain things with Ellen because she might be afraid of maybe she’s going to
give her advice that might make her uncomfortable you know, with her parents so there are so
many things here that might be playing a role that could potentially cause a conflict even
though Ellen has very good intentions, you know, in the relationship. So it’s really important to think about you
know, what are some of the cultural values of the child or the family, and the values
of the mentor and where might there be a mismatch you know, in those values then, which could
potentially affect the relationship. Those are the kinds of things that I want
us to think about today in youth mentoring. So why look at diversity issues in a mentoring
relationships? So the needs and Characteristics of youth,
they vary, you know, so as we see for Anna, her values and her family’s Values they are
different from her mentor’s. The youth, they shape their relationships
with their mentor, so they’re active agents in their relationships. And then their characteristics can shape the
relationships. And then finally, mentors become a part of
youth’s social network so now as active agents the youth are in a sense bringing this mentor
into their life and there’s this whole social network that they’re already a part of, so
mentors potentially impact other individuals in their network and their environment. So here we have two individuals who have two
different social networks coming together and the different characteristics need to
be considered in in providing the bestservices for youth. I’ll start off by talking specifically about
race, ethnicity and culture. Now, when researchers have looked at race,
the question that they have been asking–and Gloria mentioned this when she when she came
up here and welcomed you all– Is cross-race more effective? Or same-race
relationships more effective? So that’s
been what researchers have asked first, that’s
been the first question. Now if you look at most of the work that
I’ve done actually is on informal mentoring, and the work
that other people have done an informal mentoring as well we find that youth in informal
mentoring relationships tend to name people of the same race. And that makes sense because they’re naming
people from their community. Now in volunteer mentoring programs one of
the things that might happen in some programs is that you’re going to get whoever
you can and often times there’s going to be people of a different race who are working
with youth. And one of the things that researchers have
started to ask is you know: Is there one type a relationship that’s more effective? Is it you know, important that we match our
youth with someone of the same race? And there have been different arguments about
why same-race mentoring would be more effective and then also there’s arguments about why
I cross-race mentoring would be effective. The proponents of same-race mentoring they
talk about how when you’re working with youth of color they might internalize some of the
racist attitudes that our society might have about their group, so they might be vulnerable
to low self-esteem. So it’s important that we match them that
with mentors who are the same background, who can be positive role models and advocates
and teach them how to deal with some of these conflicts that they might be dealing with
because of racism. And then there’s proponents of cross-race
mentoring. So proponents of cross-race mentoring say,
“You know what? The race of the mentor is not as important
as the skills of the mentor, the experience their openness to their culture, their interest.” That we have to look at similarity along other
levels, and that that’s more important than the race. And some of the proponents of cross-race mentoring
say that some youth–and if we look at some of the volunteer mentoring programs in some of the urban areas, they tend to
have many youth of color in these programs–
and they say if we try to match them up with someone of the same race, some of
them might be on a waiting list for a long time because we– it’s always hard to find people of the
same exact race or culture to work with these youth. So some
people say that instead of having them wait until we
find someone from their community that we should just match them up with an
adult who’s interested, no matter what the race, and be able to provide them
with support rather than not give them a mentor at all. The research in this area–what’s interesting
is that it’s really mixed. So some of the findings
are favorable towards cross-race mentoring relationships,
some of the findings are favorable toward same-race mentoring relationships,
and some of the researchers find that there is no difference
between cross- and same-race relationships. So
we still don’t know, you know, which kind of
relationship is more effective but the question that I ask and others have
asked is are we asking and looking at the right
racial factors? Simply looking at the race of an individual
is not enough to see whether or not these relationships are going to be effective. We all know that you can match a youth and
an adult of the same race, but they might be of different cultures. It doesn’t mean same race or–does not necessarily
mean cultural understanding. So perhaps you have a black youth and a black
adult who were matched up, but maybe the youth, his parents are from Ethiopia, and the adult
is African-American. There’s big cultural differences there. Or let’s say we have–or maybe the youth,
you know, could also be black but they’re actually Latino as well, so maybe the family’s
from Puerto Rico and they’re black Puerto Ricans. And thats another cultural difference. Or we can match up a Latino youth with a Latino
adult and in Chicago, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, there’s a lot
of rivalry between the two, and also there’s huge differences between the two cultures. My family is from the Dominican Republic and
I’m from New York and for me it was in some ways a culture shock moving to Chicago because
I’d never been around Mexicans, and I had made an assumption growing up that Latinos
were all similar and I realized we weren’t. So I saw there were a lot of cultural differences
and I fell in some ways at a loss, I wasn’t really sure about how I fit in in Chicago. So I think the same thing would happen with
relationships you know, with youth and mentors, so we can’t make assumptions that both individuals
are going to understand each other if they’re similar racially or culturally. So I think it’s important that we look at
what are some of the cultural processes that are underlying some of these relationships,
so I’m going to get– at some of that later talk, about things like ethnic identity or
cultural mistrust. And there is one set of researchers who did
look at other dimensions besides race and ethnicity. What they did in the study, Ensher and Murphy,
they looked at–it was an internship program for high school students– and they randomly
assigned them to either same-race relationships or different-race relationships, and they
found that those who were in racially similar relationships, that was related to them liking
their mentor more and getting more support, but it wasn’t necessarily related to their
satisfaction in the relationship or whether or not they thought the relationship would
continue. What actually was related to the satisfaction
and whether not they thought the relationship would continue was the similarity in outlook,
in their values, and their interests. So it seemed that similarity in some of these
other dimensions seemed to be really important. Now I’d like to talk about what are some cultural
factors that we need to consider when we’re working with youth so that we’re not looking
at just someone’s skin color or someone’s race, so looking beyond and looking deeply
at some of these issues. Ethnic identity is something that will be
really important. It may be that that an individual from a particular
culture highly identifies with that culture or they don’t highly identify with that culture. So so if we, you know, we do same race matching
will the youth, will that even make a difference for the youth, if they don’t really identify? There was one study that was done with black
undergraduate women in a predominately white university and they found that those who had
strong ethnic identities tended to name black role models. So perhaps those with stronger identities
race would be more important for those in those relationships. Another factor that’s important to consider
is stereotype threat. This is a psychological state that an individual
experiences when some property of the environment reminds you of the stereotypes held by society. So sometimes people succumb to that to the
stereotype or the expectations if they are reminded of the stereotype. So in terms of youth-adult relationships or
youth mentoring relationships, maybe a mentor might unwittingly say something that might
remind the young person about a stereotype about their group and then cause this threat
and might influence them in let’s say a performance on an exam or something. That’s where stereotype threat has mostly
been looked at in terms of of academic performance. Another factor that’s really important to
consider is cultural mistrust–so this is a pervasive attitude that racial minority
individuals might have towards European Americans because of historical discrimination and oppression
in the US. And researchers have mostly looked at this
in therapist-client relationships among African-Americans, and what researchers have found is that those
who have higher levels of cultural mistrust are more likely to terminate their relationships
with their therapist. When it comes to mentoring, there was one
study done where mentoring relationships were simulated and they found that
African-American college students’ cultural mistrust
influenced their perception of their mentors, particularly their cultural
competence. So those who had the highest levels of
cultural mistrust thought that an African-American mentor
was more culturally competent than a European-American
mentor. So if the implication for
mentoring is if a youth has cultural mistrust,that
could potentially impact the development of the relationship. They may not feel comfortable getting close to that person–it might take
longer for them to develop a relationship. And the key to mentoring relationships is that trust and rapport, and without
that trust and rapport, mentors can’t make a difference. So that’s something to consider in
mentoring relationships. Also the cultural sensitivity of the mentor
is really important. So the openness of that individual to another’s
culture– and you know, I know that there’s been work
here done on culturally responsiveness of
staff who are working with with youth, and it’s really important to
think about how can we make people more culturally sensitive? And I’ve been collaborating with a
colleague of mine in Chicago, David Dubois, who I understand came here and spoke to you all last year; and we’ve been collecting some
data on African-American and Latina girls are matched up with adult mentors. And half of their mentors are
white and middle class, but then the other mentors are also middle class but
of other races, ethnicities. But we asked the youth, we gave them a scale
about–had them rate their mentor’s cultural sensitivity. And those who reported their mentors as
being more culturally sensitive they found — they felt that they were
more connected to them. So the cultural sensitivity, you know, despite–no matter what the race is, seems to be important in being able for the youth to feel connected to that adult. One of the things I know people are interested in, too, and here Minneapolis is a
growing immigrant population, is what are the things that we need to
be sensitive to when working with immigrant youth and
trying to pair mentors up with youth? It’s important that mentors
become aware of the stressors that immigrant youth are
experiencing. There are stressors related to exclusion. I’m sure here Minneapolis, as in Chicago,
and all over the US there’s been a growing anti-immigrant wave and it’s
caused a lot of stressors for families and some families are necessarily seeking services because they’re afraid that they’re not going to be accepted, or if they’re undocumented that they will be
reported. So this causes more stressors for these
families. There are stressors related to poverty; so many of these immigrant families are moving into neighborhoods where
there is poverty. And along with poverty comes many other
stressors, whether it’s overcrowded schools, segregated schools–and these stressors related to poverty can cause psychological conflicts in the youth. In many immigrant families, too, that I see in Chicago, separation is a huge issue. So
many youth have dealt with separation issues within their family. Maybe their parents came to the US first and left them behind so they can you know get stabilized here in the US. Or maybe they were only
able to get you know one person to go, so maybe the
parents leave and then the children children stayed behind with an extended
family. So now the young person is dealing with
the separation of between the parents and themselves. And
then maybe it’s 5 or 6 years go by and then the child has
now grown attached to this extended family member that they’re
staying with, and then their asked, now they can go back–now they can come to the US
and be reunited with the family. Now they’re going to be separated again
from someone who they’re close to, an extended family member, and then now they’re reunited with their parents and trying to form this relationship
and trying to figure out what is this parent-child relationship? So in a way
the parent and child have to re-get to know each other. So there’s a lot of stressors related to that. And I think that that’s important for mentoring because in mentoring one of the things that
mentors also need to be careful about is when we don’t have that
those consistent and frequent interactions, it could
potentially–and if we don’t necessarily fulfill our promises to youth, these youth might be extra vulnerable to unfulfilled promises because they feel
like, “Well, I’ve been abandoned before, I won’t be surprised if I’ve been abandoned
again,” you know, by another adult. So for these youth, you know, they’re extra
sensitive about about adults and how, whether or not
they follow through. Also there’s strain in parent-child
relationships in immigrant families. For those of you who work with
immigrant families here in Minneapolis you’re probably familiar that
many children, they acculturate faster than the parents and the parents are
freaking out because they feel like their children are going to get eaten up by American culture, or they’re not interested or don’t care about their family’s culture anymore. The language,
children learn the language much more quickly than the parents; sometimes
the parent-child relationship, the power changes because the child knows more English than the parent and that can change the dynamics
in the relationship, and also the parent relies a lot more on the children, they have a lot of
responsibilities in terms of translating. So there are so many stressors that
people need to become aware when they’re working with youth, and particularly mentors to understand what are some of the needs that these youth might have. and finally in the case study that I brought up earlier, many of you mentioned, you know the family values that and Anna might
have, so so here in the US the more dominant value in mainstream, white, middle-class culture is individualism, where the needs of the individual is more important
then the group, and collectivism is the opposite where the needs of the group is more important than the individual. Now there aren’t individuals who are purely individualistic or purely collectivistic. Usually within a culture you see a
range in terms of individualism or collectivis, so we can’t always put someone as a purely individualistic or collectivist person. And then also you know especially with immigrant families, the child’s values might be changing, so over time, you know as they get older they might be wanting to become more individualistic
because they’ve been acculturating to US society but that
conflicts you know with the family. Familism is a related value to collectivism; here the emphasis is on the immediate and extended family. So in many cultures this is an important
value and the needs of the family are much more
important than the needs of the individual, so sometimes decisions are made based on what the family needs rather
than what an individual needs. So these kinda values are important to
consider in terms that when working with families and mentors are working with youth to figure out, What are their culture values
and what what’s important to them? What motivates them? Is that the family or is it individualistic goals? And then that will help you in figuring out what is appropriate advice in giving to youth. So I’m going to talk a little bit about some
research that’s relevant in mentoring to some of these cultural issues. People
have looked at informal mentoring relationships and have asked: Who do youth typically identify as mentors?
So I they mentioned, usually youth identify people from their communities. An interesting finding, when you look at here’s one study with white college
students, they tended to identify both relatives and non-relatives. But the research has been done on Latino and
African-American youth, they tend to identify mostly relatives. So maybe that’s reflective of some of the values for famililism or communalism,
and in African-American families there’s a lot of importance to the extended family, so maybe these findings are reflective of
some of the cultures of the cultures. Also, another thing I just thought of, too, related to this is sometimes class, you know, can
also affect all this, so everything’s always is a lot more
complicated. And maybe, depending on their communities, maybe they only have access to maybe people in their family, and they don’t necessarily have access to people outside of there their families and developing
relationships with people in the institutions. There was one study
that my research team and I did with Latino youth, and we looked at their informal mentoring relationships–and this is with
12th grade 12th grade students at a Chicago public
high school. They were ethnically diverse, and the majority of them came from immigrant families. So either
the the young person immigrated themselves or they were born in the US
and their parents immigrated here. And what was interesting in this study, what we did that was a little bit different from other studies
is usually when people ask about mentoring
relationships, people ask about one mentor. So people assume, researchers have assumed that there’s one mentoring relationship in a person’s life, and in some ways I think
that this is reflective of our individualistic values in the US. Perhaps people have multiple mentoring relationships. So we don’t necessarily look
at, you know– give youth the opportunity to identify
more than one. And what I found in this study is that a
little over half identified at least one mentor in their
life and 39 percent identified two or two or three mentors, so we gave them the
opportunity to name up to three individuals in their life who’s a mentor. And the other interesting thing that’s consistent with some of the values for familism is that the majority at these mentors were family members; either they were older siblings or they were extended family such as an aunt or uncl,e, a cousin or a grandparent. And then there was a minority of the mentors who were not familial adults. So they might be a teacher or counselor at school, a
pastor or maybe an adult in the community, a neighbor. So those are the individuals who were
named. And I think, when working with Latino families, it’s important to think about the role that family members play. Oftentimes a lot of the research that I’ve done has
been on academic achievement of Latino youth. And what I have found is
that the families are usually very supportive of these of
their children. They’re very supportive emotionally, they want them to do well they encourage them but there’s
limitations to their roles, so many of these youth, they’re the first in
their families to possibly graduate from high school and go on to college. Their families their educational levels might be in a less than a high school degree, maybe they just went to elementary school, and even though they’re emotionally supportive, they can’t necessarily tell them what to do. So that’s where some of the
limitations come in. I did a study one time with
youth, with Latino youth and asked them about individuals in their life who were supportive, including parents, and this is a quote from
a parent that show some of the limitations that they
might have in being able to help their children, and I think this is reflective
of maybe what some other familial mentors might not be able to do, whether it’s an aunt or uncle. So this parent was having problems with his son, he wasn’t doing well when he was in eighth grade, and he was telling me a story about when he wasin, when the child was in eighth grade, he was having problems in class and problems with math, in particular. And he said, “My son had to go to his room and go study. For a couple months I kept him there, I said, ‘You go study, but I can’t help you because I don’t know what to do.’ I went to talk to his counselor and they helped.” And he told me that his son’s mathematical skills surpassed his own, so he couldn’t teach him how to do well, you know, tutor him
for his math class where he was struggling, but this parent, you know, took the initiative
to reach out and talk to a counselor to get the support that he needed. And even though this is a parent, some of the mentors, when we’ve done research on the informal mentoring relationships, as I mentioned many of them are extended family; when we’ve looked at the educational levels and extended family, they were relatively lower compared to the non-familial mentors. So they these family mentors were very supportive emotionally, but they couldn’t necessarily give them the information or specific support that these youth needed. Also we were interested in looking at the number of mentors. So in mentoring usually we just look at whether or not you have a mentor, so we just ask about one. And is there a difference between those youth who have mentors and those who don’t. But because we asked about multiple mentoring relationships to try to capture that collectivist kind of
mindset, we were interested in seeing if the number mentors related to any academic outcomes. And we found that the more mentors youth named the lower absenteeism rates they had. They
also had greater educational expectations and they had a greater sense of school belonging. So it seems that having these multiple–and we also found that even if you just had
one mentor, we could we see some of these differences, but having multiple mentoring
relationships seemed to reinforce some of these messages that on individuals are trying to
transmit. And maybe multiple individuals can monitor youths’ behavior better than just 1
person. What a limitation to the study is that we didn’t ask if the mentors all knew each other. So it would have been interesting to see whether or not these mentors had relationships because
if they did they interacted and that means they were probably able to reinforce the messages that they were trying to deliver to these young people. And a question that people have
asked me in our research is, “Well, is there a difference between non-familial and familial mentoring relationships in terms of the outcomes?” As I mentioned before the difference between
the two is that the not familial mentors are more highly educated than the familial
mentoring relationships and what we have found is that those who have non-familial mentors — and only have non-familial mentors — they tend to have higher
educational expectations and expectancies for success compared to those who don’t have mentoring
relationships so when we added those who had only familiar mentoring relationships,
we can see a difference at all. And then we found that having either a non-familial
mentor or a familial mentor made a difference in the sense of school belonging, when we compared them to those who didn’t have a mentoring relationship. So somehow these relationships that they have with these mentors, whether they’re in or outside the school system is transmitting to a sense of general support within the school environment and the students feel like they
belong and they’re a part of and they fit in to school. I wanted to give you a couple
examples of culturally specific mentoring programs to to show you what some people have tried to do to make their programs culturally relevant. There’s one project called the cross-cultural mentoring project and this is a program that targets Native American youth ages 11 to 15. And in this program, they published this study in 2000, the mentors were all European-American graduate students. And what they did
to make the mentors more culturally sensitive is that they provided a Native American
cultural consultant to the program who taught the mentors about the culture of these Native American youth and their families and their history. The mentors, as being part of the program, they were expected to do research on the history and the the tribal history of the youth they were working with, and they also had to attend local
cultural events with the mentees, and on top of that they also had to examine their own cultural biases. So in general when
you’re trying to be culturally responsive or sensitive towards youth,
it’s really hard to understand another culture, if we don’t know our own culture
and are not aware of our own biases, so it’s usually a first step in trying to be culturally sensitive. An example of another culture specific mentoring program is the therapeutic group mentoring model which which targets African-American males in foster care. And in this program–this was different in that it was in a one-on-one mentoring relationship–they use
a group mentoring approach. So they had adults work with a number youth at once and what they try to do is foster a
sense of community where participants had a responsibility
towards the group rather than their own needs. And they
also tried to integrate values that they thought were relevant
to these community to this community, so things like group about self, the
respect for self and others, responsibility for self and community,
reciprocity and authenticity. So they tried to
integrate these values within the program to make it more
culturally sensitive for the youth. And a program that I’ve been collaborating with at Chicago I’ve been collaborating with David
Dubois who’s at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and we’ve been doing some work with Big Brothers Big Sisters
there. And what we did is we developed a structured program
for Big Sisters and Little Sisters. And the letter sisters
tend to being African-American and Latina girls, ages about but ten to thirteen And the mentors they are vary–mostly
middle-class professional women, about half are white and the other half
are different race/ethnicities. And we’ve tried to make this program
culturally relevant to these girls. One of the things that we do besides weaving in culturally relevant themes
throughout the program, these these girls, they meet with their
mentors once a month in a series of workshops
over a year and a half and in between, the mentors and youth are
expected to get together on their own. So in an unstructured format so the big
and the little get together outside of that. And one of the things we do early on in the in this program, the program is called Girl Power, and in this program one of the things we try
to do early on is we have a workshop that’s about culture to get
them to start thinking early on about the cultural background of the youth
and the cultural background of the mentor, and so they can start getting to know
each other at that level. And this workshop we call it, “Celebrating our
sameness and our differences: Cultural Diversity,” and our goals in this workshop is to help the girls develop
a positive ethnic and racial identity. We also help the mentors and girls share
their cultural backgrounds with one another, and we help the girls learn strategies for coping with prejudice and
discrimination. So we can’t solve all these things all at
once in one day in three hours, but we touch on each of those topics
and one of the things we do, too, with this intervention is that we provide them with activities that they can do outside of the workshops
so they can continue the conversation. So they’re expected to get together on
their own in between the workshops and we give them ideas of things that
they do together to be able to continue talking about whatever was discussed at
the last workshop. And some of the sample activities that
we give them choices of a number of activities that they could do on their own, and one if the things that we, one of the activities we suggest, and they can
choose whatever they want to do, we call this one, “She is Powerful.” So we have to girls, with the assistance of their mentor identify positive role models from their culture, whether it’s
someone they know in their community or in their family or someone in the
media. And if the young person identifies someone who isn’t necessarily, you know, in the media, who isn’t a good
role model the mentor tries to help them identify a positive role model. And they’re
supposed to explore what makes this person a positive role
model and how can this on how can the girl become a positive
role model herself in the future. Another example of an
activity that we suggest to explore the
discrimination and prejudice is to watch a movie where there is discrimination and prejudice going on with a particular group. So we give them a list of movies that are rated PG that they can watch. So examples might be Remember the Titans or
Rabbit Proof Fence and then we give them a list of questions that the mentors can use in helping them have a conversation
afterwards about what happened in the movie? How did they understand the discrimination? How did the characters
cope with it? Have you ever dealt with anything like
this in in your life? as well. And as I mentioned, before they do this on their own, in the workshop we explore all
of these issues and in the workshop itself it’s very interactive to make it to developmentally appropriate. The girls, you know, really want it to be fun, so we want to teach him something, but it has to be fun so they’ll listen and take take something away with it. During the workshop we introduce the idea of culture–What is
culture? It’s such a broad term, it means so many different things. We also
have them in the beginning at the workshop do a skit where there’s a mentor and youth in the
skit and they explore an area of difference. And then the girls and the
mentors together talk about what this area of difference is and how they could
resolve it. Then we also bring in a community
presenter who talks about culture, and they could –usually the community presenter does it
however they would like to do it. We also have them do an art project where they start–where the mentor and the youth get to know each other in terms of their culture and try to learn a little bit about their culture. And we also have them export prejudice and discrimination before they go off on their own. So all these ideas are simply introducedm we’re just planning a seed and trying to give the mentors tools so they can explore it further outside of the workshop. But now I’m going to move on to gender. So those were the main issues that I wanted to
talk about with regard to race, ethnicity and
culture, and where we stand in the mentoring literature. So as I
mentioned, you know, all these demographic diversity
issues are areas that we don’t really know much
about, and the same with gender; we don’t really know much in terms of how gender plays a role in mentoring relationships. So researchers in mentoring
have drawn from some other literature with youth to look at how gender plays out
in relationships overall. And some of the interesting things that researchers have looked at are things like friendship development, and
what researchers have found is that girls’
relationships are characterized with more intimacy, self-disclosure, more empathy compared to boys’ relationships. And there is some research that suggests that race and class tend to–can influence some of these differences as well. So for example, in a study done in 2001 white and black girls from middle-class backgrounds were more likely to self-disclose to their peers compared to those who were from lower-income backgrounds. So of course race and class can also
influence some of these gender findings that people have looked at in these relationships. Also, “help-seeking,” girls in times of stress are more likely to seek for emotional support compared to boys. Mentoring researchers have also looked at teacher-student relationships
to try to understand adult-youth relationships, and what researchers find, well in general in the school system there are more female teachers, so I’m sure that influences the kind relationships they
have with their students. So that would be more applicable for
the relationship if there’s a female mentor. And what researchers have found in teacher-student relationships is that
teachers tend to prefer students with cooperative and responsive styles; their relationships with females tend to
be closer and have less conflict than their
relationships with boys. So this suggest that mentors might form
closer relationships with girls than with boys. Now in mentoring itself there has been research, a lot of the
research in gender and mentoring that has been
done is with adults and in career mentoring. And people find that there are differences
between the type of support the male mentors provide and female
mentors provide, And same with the kind of support that women and
men seek. So what researchers have found is that men tend to provide more instrumental
support, so that’s more the type of support when you need
to solve a problem, OK, to help the the mentees achieve
their goals. And psycho-social support tends to be
the kind of support that women tend to provide and that women seek, and this tends to be more process-oriented, so this relies heavily on the interpersonal relationship between a
mentor and the mentee, and ultimately attempts to change the
personal characteristics of the mentee. And some of the research on youth mentoring tends to suggest that some of this
might apply to youth as well. So one set of researchers found
that empathy, authenticity, and other relationship qualities were really important in relationships
between female faculty a female college students. And that contributed to higher self-esteem and less loneliness. Jean Rhodes, who’s done a lot of research on mentoring– she’s found that girls tend to want
their mentors to talk whereas the boys want their mentors to
do activities with them, which is consistent with this
instrumental and psychosocial kind of support. Now an interesting thing is that people have started to challenge that a
little bit. A lot of times people think that boys are
not really interested in that emotional support and Niobe Way, a developmental psychologist who’s done longitudinal work with
adolescents and their relationships, she’s done work with adolescent boys, and she’s found that some of the boys they do have deep, multifaceted, emotionally connected relationships, and
that those who didn’t have that were actually yearning for those
relationships. So people have started to ask well can we assume the boys don’t want
emotional, an emotional kind of connection with their mentor. And one researcher, Renee Spencer who’s in Boston,
she’s looked at the emotional closeness in male mentoring relationships between a male adult and a male youth. And she did a study where she interviewed 12 mentor-mentee pairs
at a Big Brother Big Sister program in the Northeast. And to be part of the study you had to have been in your relationship for at
least a year, and the staff deemed these relationships
as being strong and significant
relationships. And the youth, just give us some background, the youth were diverse in this study; a few were white, some were African-American, a few were bi-racial or multi-racial. What they all had in common is they
didn’t have a father figure in the home. and the mentors were less diverse. They
were mostly white and middle-class and what the, or what she found is that the mentors, some of the mentors
talked about how they wanted to be models of emotional connection and emotional vulnerability. Some of the mentors talked about how, when they were growing up, they didn’t have
an adult male who tried to be supportive at an emotional level with them, and they
were trying to provide that themselves to to a young person. Some of
these relationships were characterized as close and enduring. When the youth and the mentors talked about the relationship, they said that the youth would talk about the mentors as being
very caring, they would talk about trusting the mentor,
that there would be emotional attachment in the relationship. One young, person he said in his interview when he was asked: how long do you think
this relationship would last? The young person said, “Until I have to go
buy him adult diapers for an old folks home.” So he saw this relationship lasting forever, okay. So these relationships were obviously very close. They also characterized the relationship
as being a safe space for vulnerability and emotional support. So the youth thought that the mentors would be there for them no matter what. If they had a problem they could go to
the mentor to talk to them about it. They felt that they could trust them. One mentor talked about, though, how it
took his mentee about two years to reveal some of the things that have
been going on his family. So it took a while, but what helped them get
to this level, for them to be close is that there
was consistency in the relationship. So the the mentors
and the youth met every other week and they had, they would talk on the phone, as well in between. But this these mentors were very consistent, would
follow through, and they had frequent interaction. And
then that allowed them to develop these close relationships. Now although
these relationships, there was emotional connection, and the mentors and youth would talk about it this way, when the adults, when the men talked about it they’d always
couch it under, “Well, I’m a man’s man. We don’t get, you know, emotional like that all the time; it’s only once in a while.” So they would always preface it, you know, with that. So there was definitely. you know, they were try to couch it under, you know, masculinity. In the results they talk about this one adult
how when he was interviewed alone he talked
about how, when he had gone away one time on vacation, he realized that he actually missed his mentee. And then after that he was interviewed with the mentee, and the interviewer asked him to talk about what he had said. And he said, “Well,
I don’t want to sound corny, but you know when I was away– I like talking to you.” So he didn’t say that
he missed him, and he had to preface it: this sounds corny. So there is still you know, it’s not necessarily okay to just you know and have that kind of emotional kind of relationship. But they acknowledge it, but there’s a limit. Some of the research that’s been done on
youth mentoring, when they’ve looked at gender, they find that the gender of the mentee is not necessarily related to whether or not a mentoring program is effective. And an interesting finding is that some– Grossman and Rhodes found that premature termination of a match, and this is with Big Brothers
Big Sisters program, they seem to be slightly more likely among female
matches. So that’s an interesting finding with regard to gender. And Jean Rhodes she explains this by talking about
referral– why girls are referred and boys are referred to Big Brothers Big Sisters or mentoring programs, and also the role of gender and relationship formation. So although there are many exceptions, there’s some evidence that that girls
are referred to to mentoring programs because maybe
there’s problems in the mother-daughter relationship, whereas boys are referred to these to the programs because the parent is seeking a positive adult role model. So there is isn’t necessarily something wrong with maybe the mother and son relationship. And there’s been some research that found that maybe the trouble in the mother-daughter
relationship, that that there might actually be issues that’s contributing to the mentoring relationship. In one
national study of Big Brothers Big Sisters they found that the girls when they were initially referred to the program,they reported lower overall attachment to their parents, usually with the mom when they would talk about the parent relationship. They also talked about–they also had lower levels of parental trust and higher levels of alienation in the parental relationship. So maybe these troubled relationships with the parent is being translated to the mentoring relationship, and it’s causing problems
as making it harder for them to develop a close relationship. And then that’s why they might terminate early, which would influence
their ability to develop, you know, a close relationship with the mentor. Also another thing that Jean Rhodes talks about is that if there is problems in
the relationship between the girl and the mom, maybe the mom isn’t giving the support to allow this relationship to
happen. So maybe not giving a ride to BBBS when there’s an activity going on and the mentor’s going to be there. So maybe there’s some concrete, logistical things that are also affecting their ability to develop their relationship. And in the program that I mentioned in Girl Power we also try to make this program gender-specific,since ‘ focusrfon girls. So we, as I mentioned, it targets African-American and Latina girls, and we focus on strengthening the mentor-youth relationship. So we focus on the interpersonal aspect of the relationship, consistent with some of the literature that suggests that girls want some of this psychosocial support. So at every workshop we start off the workshops with the with a mentor and youth doing a skit where there’s some kind of relationship issue. And that way they can have a conversation as a group about what is the relationship issue, how can it be resolved and it can sort of plant a seed for the mentors and youth, so if they were to experience something like this, they could figure out how to overcome that. We also provide opportunities for social
connection, so by having this group format once a month, it allows the girls and the mentors to be able to develop relationships with
other girls and other mentors. And some of the evaluation data suggests that the girls and their mentors really like this
component of the program because they get to meet other women and girls, and form meaningful relationships. Some people think, also, that the fact that we have in each of these workshops it’s a women-girl only setting, so maybe by having a female setting, it allows for girls’ voices to be heard and they don’t have to feel
uncomfortable you know, as they might feel uncomfortable in a mixed-gender
setting. And then also we focus on issues that
are relevant to adolescent girls. So some of our workshop topics are focused on interpersonal relationships. Early on
we do a workshop about the mentor and youth relationships to help them get to know each other. We also do a workshop on social networks
so that the mentor can learn the social network
of the girls and understand who are the
important individuals in your life. But also for the mentee to understand
that there’s other important adults in your life besides this mentor. Whether it’s a parent or other family members, or adults in their school system or another community agency, who are important, who they could go to for support. And as I mentioned we focus on issues that might affect
the health and well-being of girls. So for example, self esteem, at the
interpersonal level, when we talk about peer relationships, we’ll talk about
relationship aggression,which some researchers talk about how when there’s
aggression in female versus male relationships it’s
much more relational among girls. At the societal level we talk about
pressures and stereotypes contributing to unhealthy diet or to body image and
how girls see themselves. And throughout we incorporate positive images of women and girls throughout the curriculum. And finally we have development in mentoring. So age, okay so how does age play into all of this? And I’m sure all of these factors that I’m talking about: race, ethnicity, culture and gender and age, they’re all interacting at once and influencing youth and their needs. So as I mentioned, little is known about youth development. There, as you read in that reading, there are very
few programs that are focused solely or developed solely for children. And then if those that are focused on adolescents, they don’t necessarily distinguish between younger adolescents and older adolescents and what are some of the differences. And one of the findings that people have found in this area is that youth
age 10 to 12 years are less likely to terminate mentoring relationships
compared to older youth. So there might be something
going developmentally and maybe where developing programs in a way that’s not necessarily as developmentally friendly to older
adolescents. There’s that’s what I just
mentioned in that research finding. So there’s many kinds of differences so that we might find across you know adolescents. So there’s
cognitive and verbal abilities that we see vary between children and
adolescents. So younger children they have less
verbal skills and they’re less cognitively advanced. Cavell and Hughes, they developed a program a mentoring
program that was for children and they trained college students to do
child-directed play with them. So they had them you know paraphrase
comments that the child might make, describe any ongoing play activities, and
they did all this to help the children learn how to express their emotions appropriately. Now something like that obviously would not work well
you know with adolescents. Also adolescents, you know, they have more of an ability to shape and manage the mentoring relationship. So maybe there’s more termination issues with older adolescents because
maybe they’re the ones they are contributing to these relationships ending. So if they are not interested in the mentoring relationship, you know, they might be very resistant to the mentor, either by not showing up
to activities or maybe making it intolerable for the mentor when they’re interacting with them. And there’s some research that suggests that there’s a weak relationship
between participating in mentoring programs and now coutcomes during the middle and late adolescence. So again some developmental differences. So
there’s a stronger relationship between mentoring and outcomes for early adolescents. And early adolescence that’s a time when there’s a lot of changes,
a lot of rapid changes, simultaneous changes that are going on, so maybe social support and the interpersonal aspect of mentoring is really important for this period. It might be that for older adolescents, maybe the emotional support
is not as important as maybe instrumental support. So providing youth with maybe opportunities to learn new skills, for example. So maybe some of the older youth would like
those kinds of things. So perhaps the types of activities and
the social support varies by on the developmental stage of these youth. But of course you know as I mentioned
before with gender, you know the females like the
psychosocial type of support,whereas the males like
the instrumental support, but then here with age we’re saying that
those who are older might want instrumental support and those who are
younger might want the psychosocial, so how do gender and age interact? So it
makes things a bit more complicated. And here’s an example of a developmentally specific mentoring program. This is an apprenticeship
program where adolescents are provided with
mentoring in different work environments to expose
them to the working world and what they can strive for in the
future. And they get–each youth gets two types of
mentors. The coordinators who supervise the
adolescents’ placements, they serve as mentors, and then also there’s mentors who they work closely with a specific settings. And a lot of the activities between the mentors and youth are focused around introducing the youth to
the social demands of work such as teamwork, responsibility and
positive work attitude. So maybe these kinds of mentoring programs are more helpful for those who–for the older adolescents. Alright so what are some of the take-home
messages in terms of implications for practice, you know,when we look at race ethnicity and culture, gender and development? First of all, it’s really important to train mentors and staff on youth needs around all of these issues, around race, ethnicity, culture, age and gender. It’s really important that we try to understand where they youth are coming from and what’s important to them so that we can provide the best support that we can.
It’s important that program goals are specified. Oftentimes the goals of programs are broad, soit might be to help at-risk youth, but what is the goal in terms of how we want to help them? Are we trying to help them, you know by providing more psycho-social support? And if so might that be more appropriate for
females or for younger youth? So really trying to
specify how it is that we want to help youth and
then thinking about what group that would help most. Or doing it the opposite, think about what’s your population and what’s the best way to help them? I think it would be
important to consider using assessments to understand mentor and youth before matches are made, and to target support. So if we know for example beforehand that
a particular youth has a high level of cultural mistrust then that might influence who you match that the youth with. Or if they are matched up with if it’s a minority youth matched up with the white
mentor then maybe staff need to provide a lot more support in that relationship because it might be harder to develop a closer
relationship. And it would be important to look at what are the interests and what are the preferences of youth and mentors? Do they want to be matched up with a particular adult,
type of adult or particular youth? Oftentimes youth say, “I just want a big brother, I just want a big sister,” that’s really what’s more
important, but we also want to look at where they are
similar on interests or values so we can try to match appropriately, or maybe relationship styles. And finally, I think it would be important to take a look at termination issues. So maybe there is something that’s going on programmatically or maybe it’s something
that’s related to the some of these these diversity issues that I mentioned. Maybe the youth’s needs weren’t necessarily being met, maybe it was a bad fit with the mentor and maybe there are some cultural issues that haven’t been considered in the program. So by understanding why it is these relationships are not succeeding, maybe we can learn from those and apply them to other relationships so that we can have successful
relationships. Thank you, very much.

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