The role of protege disability and competence in mentoring relationships
Kimbrough, Andrea Brinley
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The diversity literature has long suggested that discrimination against minority groups at early career development stages hinders advancement opportunities. However, few of these studies have examined the disabled as a minority population. The current study examines the intentions of non-disabled mentors in the protégé selection process. This 3 X 2 between subjects factorial design assessed protégé disability type (visible, invisible, or no disability) and protégés’ actual competence level (high or moderate) in relation to participants willingness to mentor and perceived competence of protégés. Results revealed no significant differences in willingness to mentor and a “sympathy effect” or positive bias towards the disabled regarding perceptions of competence. Additional analyses suggest that participants paired with a disabled protégé were more likely to request another applicant to mentor than those matched with a non-disabled protégé. This study furthers the diversity literature in the area of mentoring. Implications and future research are discussed.