Throughout 2018, two UCF professors conducted research trying to find the best way for female faculty members to feel confident in the academic workplace.
Linda Walters, director of the Center for Success of Women Faculty at UCF, and Amanda Koontz, UCF associate professor in the Department of Sociology, found that community-based mentoring is critical for women's empowerment in the workplace.
"Community-based mentoring focuses on women coming together with different backgrounds and rankings," Walters said.
Walters said that most organizations have traditional mentoring systems that involve a higher-ranked employee giving advice to a lower-ranked employee, while community-based mentoring keeps the rankings equal.
"Women faculty now don't have time to listen to older faculty tell stories," Walters said. "Traditional mentoring doesn't let women truly connect."
In the study published in December 2018, Walters and Koontz mixed together women of different ages, work rankings, colleges and ethnicities.
"We put together groups of three that all had different backgrounds," Walters said. "They were able to connect in different aspects."
Walters said she found that women are most successful when knowing that they have the resources available.
"We now can help women find their best version of success through resources provided to them," Walters said.
Koontz said she hopes other academic organizations adopt this new mentoring method in the future.
"I am hoping it encourages ongoing conversations of new ways to approach success," Koontz said. "This study could help us make everyday changes that help people feeling supported in working towards inclusive definitions of success."