Diversity in STEM: Considering Developmental Relationship Type and Broaching Style

Melissa Carroll
Erin F. Barnes


Over the last two decades, mentoring research started to investigate the mentor’s role in the development and advancement of the protégé (Mullen, 1994). Mentoring relationships traditionally address two important aspects of development, professional and psychosocial growth. Addressing these components requires skillfulness on the part of the mentor as oftentimes support for the protégé can require the mentor to explore challenging and sometimes uncomfortable topics. One topic that can create considerable discomfort surrounds issues related to race. Older theories of mentoring focused on the ways in which the mentor provided direction and guidance for the protégé’s assimilation into the culture of an organization. If we consider the university or college environment like an organization, as theorized in Tinto’s model of retention (1975), we can understand an organizational level of control is diversity, or lack thereof within the academic STEM environment. While organizational dynamics are important to understand, it is dually important to educate the protégé on navigating this context using a culturally-relevant lens (Hanley & Noblit, 2009). Although same race mentoring relationships have demonstrated to be effective (Blake-Beard, Bayne, Crosby, & Muller, 2011), it is not a sustainable trend in the STEM fields. As such, protégé’s and mentors will need to be comfortable discussing important topics, such as race. This paper will serve as a guide to help facilitate communication between the mentor and protégé through categorizing the most effective approach to the developmental relationship and through the use of broaching style, a theory commonly used within counseling research.