Date of Conferral
Leader mentoring in the military has not been well researched, especially that involving cross-gender pairings. A phenomenological study was conducted to gain insight into the perceptions, thoughts, and feelings of military officers regarding their decision to engage in mentoring, to include with members of the opposite gender. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 20 male and 20 female U.S. Army senior commissioned officers to collect information regarding mentoring selection perspectives and decisions and to examine emerging themes, concepts, and patterns, using NVivo 11 Pro Plus. Negative themes that emerged among both male and female participants concerned adverse perceptions of members within the organization, including perceptions of inappropriate relationships, sexual contact, unprofessionalism, rumors, mal-intent, and concern for impact on spouses. Positive themes among both male and female participants included feelings regarding success, career progression, promotions, opportunities, sharing, leadership, developing, and increased potential. Participants also expressed their amenability to mentoring officers of the opposite gender, with varying degrees of expectation for success. Understanding how military officers perceive, think, and feel regarding mentor selection will provide U.S. Army leadership with useful information that can promote positive social change among the officer ranks and will help leaders better understand the mentor and mentee relationship. This will have a positive impact on the U.S. military's efforts to ensure that all female officers receive effective mentoring and socialization.