Are you my mentor? Informal mentoring mutual identification



Date of this version


Document Type



Mentoring, Gender, Human Resource Management


This study seeks to understand the extent to which potential mentors and protégés agree that an informal mentoring relationship exists. Because these relationships are usually tacitly understood, either the mentor or protégé could perceive that there is a mentoring relationship when the other person does not agree. Whether gender affects this is also examined.

Individuals were asked to identify their mentoring partners. Each report of a partner was then compared to the partner’s list to determine whether there was a match (i.e., both reported the relationship as an informal mentoring relationship) or a mismatch (i.e., where one partner reported the relationship as an informal mentoring relationship but the other did not). This pattern of matches and mismatches was then analyzed to determine level of matching and gender differences.

Our results reveal that there is little agreement between mentoring partners: neither potential protégés nor potential mentors were very accurate at identifying reciprocal informal mentoring partners. However, gender was not found to be related to different levels of matching.

Previous work has not examined whether potential informal mentoring partners perceive the relationship in the same way. This has implications for employees who are depending upon their mentoring partners for support that may not be forthcoming, because the partner does not view the relationship similarly.

Published in

Career Development International

Citation/Other Information

17(2), 137-148.