The AFS Board Backs Mentoring at Annual Meeting
Friday, July 18, 2014
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
Mentoring and being mentored are important aspects of any career, whether those relationships are formal or informal, short-term or long-term, one-on-one or group, hierarchical or peer. Mentoring is about fostering relationships, sharing knowledge, skills, and experience, and being of service to others. Research shows that academic mentoring is effective in producing positive outcomes.
Many AFS members manage to find such productive relationships within their own circles, but many others lack opportunity to mentor or be mentored. Many of our most successful academics teach in schools without folklore programs or graduate programs, while those who work in the public sector have much to share but sporadic access to students. Additionally, although the humanities appear less biased than the sciences, women and minority students are less frequently mentored than men. Since mentoring plays a crucial role in building successful careers, to fulfill this potential, equal access to mentoring is important.
In 2012, AFS Executive Board member Lisa Gabbert (Utah State University) initiated a program to use the AFS annual meeting as an occasion to create more opportunities for those who want to foster or expand their professional relationships. In 2014, the Board created an ad hoc mentoring committee to continue this initiative; current Board members Maggie Holtzberg (Massachusetts Cultural Council), Solimar Otero (Louisiana State University), Diane Tye (Memorial University of Newfoundland), and Carolyn Ware (Louisiana State University) have joined the AFS Board Mentoring Program Committee.
In 2014, as in the past two years, the committee offers two formalized ways for students to meet mentors. (See the 2014 Annual Meeting page for details about mentoring at this year's meeting, including how to apply).
Students may sign up to shadow established folklorists so that each may get to know the other better. The committee may be able to introduce students to mentors of the students' choice, or connect students with someone else they ought to know. Mentors/mentees spend at least a half a day together during the meeting, possibly attending meeting sessions together, sharing a meal or coffee break, discussing the students' goals and interests and how to succeed in the field, and making introductions and starting conversations with other scholars the mentor knows. Ideally, mentees will stay in touch with their mentors, who may continue to act as a resource beyond the meeting.
Alternatively, some students may be selected to have lunch at the annual meeting with the editor of a major folklore journal as guests of AFS. The small group allows for serious conversation and questions about the nature of academic publishing. This year, participants will lunch with Michael Dylan Foster, current editor of the Journal of Folklore Research.
The committee welcomes participants in this ongoing initiative, as well as suggestions for future directions. If you are interested in participating in the mentoring program either as a mentor or as a mentee, please contact Lisa Gabbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carolyn Ware (email@example.com).
 Eby, Lillian T, Tammy D. Allen, and David DuBois (2008). Does Mentoring Matter? A Multi-Disciplinary Meta-Analysis Comparing Mentored and Non Mentored Individuals. Journal of Vocational Behavior 72/2: 254-267.
 Dua, Priya (2007). Feminist Mentoring and Female Graduate Student Success: Challenging Gender Inequality in Higher Education. Sociology Compass 1:594–612.