Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling

First Advisor

Becky Ropers-Huilman


The purpose of this research is to explore meaningful mentoring relationships between women doctoral students and their advisors. Specifically, this study examines how graduate women and their advisors navigate and perceive their mentoring relationships during the doctoral program of study. Although research in higher education has addressed the lived experiences of women doctoral students, few have examined the doctoral student/advisor mentoring dynamic from both the student and advisor perspectives. This study provides an understanding of the mentoring experiences of women doctoral students and advisors through qualitative conversation. The participants in the study are 6 women post-doctoral students and their advisors, 4 female and 2 male, from Louisiana State University, a Research I university located in the South. Through a feminist phenomenological qualitative approach, the following research questions are answered: How do graduate women and their advisors enter into mentoring relationships? What do graduate women and their advisors desire from doctoral advising relationships and how do they perceive each other's needs and roles? And, what do advisors and graduate women perceive to be the benefits and problems that resulted from their mentoring experience? Through analysis of the data, nine themes are identified under three categories of understanding: participants' needs and desires, benefits, and problems. Finally, participant perspectives on age and gender differences are explored. Three themes that emerge from participants' needs and desires are matching of personality, dedication, and support. Each of these themes is important for both women graduates in the study and their advisors. Two themes categorized as benefits, satisfaction and professional growth, are important factors in building the foundation for the mentoring relationships that formed. The third, persistence and completion of the Ph.D., was obviously the ultimate goal for all the participants. Finally, problems addressed within this study are communication/differing perspectives, time, and negotiating friendship. What may come from this study is an understanding of the meanings that women graduate students and their advisors ascribe to the doctoral process and to the mentoring relationships that support that process.