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CCCC 2001 in Review: G.29 Parlor Sisters and "New Girl" Networks: Academic Mentoring in Theory, in the Classroom, and in the Ivory Tower, chaired by Rebecca Sutherland Borah

Presenters: Rebecca Sutherland Borah, Julie Ratliff, Sarah Jackson, and Sharon Dean

This stimulating panel, composed of Rebecca Sutherland Borah, Sharon Dean (both of the University of Cincinnati), Julie Ratliff (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale) and Sarah Jackson (Northern Kentucky University) offered a series of short presentations on how women are--and are not--mentored as compositionists in the academy today. Speaking as a scholar of mentor/mentee relationships, Borah deftly traced the history of how women have simultaneously been relegated to the teaching of composition and been silenced throughout the history of the academy; for Borah, women have thus occupied a contradictory role as they have been often been responsible for engendering, fostering, and nurturing communications skills in others while frequently being deprived of their own voices in the institutions that employ them. Others, including Ratliff, Dean, and Jackson, offered various personal perspectives on how institutions continue to either foster or fail junior female colleagues.

Overall, this panel left one delighted with the degree of self critique that these scholars engage in, even as one could leave the panel frustrated that so little formal mentoring of junior faculty occurs in our institutions of higher learning--and that so much of the mentoring that does occur is informal and frequently inadequate. That women in particular suffer from poor mentoring is simultaneously not surprising and shocking. At the same time, Borah offer a sense of hope as these scholar/teachers modeled how women have often begun helping themselves--and each other--in an otherwise often indifferent academic world. [JA]

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