Peer mentoring’s impact on gender identity in college men
Sacco, Michael Anthony
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This study contributes to a body of literature that looks for effective responses to the decline in academic performance and success in college men, the research into the effects of peer-led mentoring programs and the social construction of masculinities as they relate to gender role conflict. This qualitative study focuses on a group of male students who attend and have participated in a peer-led mentoring program at Boston College, a private, Jesuit, Catholic university located within the northeastern United States. I employed interviewing, document review, and observations in this case study to explore the experiences and perceptions of the participants. I used purposeful, convenience sampling in the selection of subjects to be interviewed. I conducted semi-structured interviews with twenty-three collegiate men aged 18 to 23 who shared perceptions of the formation of their masculine construct and reflected on their experience in a peer-led mentoring program. The data were coded, analyzed, and organized into two overarching themes: (1) Formation of Masculinity and (2) Freshmen League as a Game Changer. Within the formation of masculinity section, I examined the factors that affected the participants’ masculine constructs and the characteristics that participants associated with being an “ideal” man. Specifically, I discussed how participants’ described feeling pressure to be strong, competitive, in control of their emotions, and successful. In the second section of the findings, Freshmen League as a Game Changer, I assessed the role that the peer-led mentoring program had in the reconstruction of participants’ masculine ideology. After evaluating how both protégés and mentors described the power of the mentoring relationship, I found the participants’ self-reported increase in authenticity, vulnerability and appreciation for reflection. I also discussed ways in which my findings add to existing literature and shared recommendations for current practice and future research to better serve male students.