During my research last week, I came across a study that dealt with mentor volunteer retention and recruitment, specifically looking at the gap between male and female mentors. This is an important subject to tackle as the authors cite studies that show that mentees who are connected with the same mentor for 2 years show the most significant positive change, whereas the mentees who are paired with the same mentor for only 6 months show almost no positive change, illustrating the importance of mentor retention. The authors also cite the value of mentoring programs on "at risk youth" but then state that despite growing research to demonstrate this, there are very few mentoring programs and some have very long waiting lists for youth to get paired up with a mentor.
If there is so much research showing the benefits of tutor/mentor programs, then why isn't there a larger push to develop more across the nation? I feel as though it is the failing of the information reaching the right people (people who might fund a program, people who may start up a new program) that is impacting this, highlighting the importance of Tutor/Mentor Connections and its goal of collecting all of this information and presenting it to as many people as possible. By maintaining a database of information regarding volunteer recruitment/retention, Tutor/Mentor Connections is also providing the infrastructure for the growth of new, strong tutor/mentor programs that are better able to make an impact in the lives of at risk youth.
Going back to the article, the authors reported findings some differences between males and females in regards to becoming a mentor. The primary reason that women gave to becoming a mentor was due to a sense of personal gratification, or a belief that they would experience a sense of personal gratification. Men however, listed their primary reasons for becoming a mentor revolved around social and peer expectations and interactions. In regards to retention, men were more likely to follow through with their time commitment of one year due to having to fulfill their obligation, whereas females continued as long as they felt a sense of gratification. All of the mentors used in this study had strong mentors in their own lives, and thus understood the importance of a mentor in a youth's life. I am wondering if educating more people as to the strong benefits of having a mentor in a youth's life would encourage more people who may not have had a strong mentor in their own life to volunteer their time.
Some conclusions can be drawn from this study, primarily in methods of "advertising" your program to different genders. On one hand, to have a better chance at recruiting females, a program may want to focus on stories of current mentors and how it feels to become a large part of a child's life, where to recruit more males, a program may want to focus on recruiting groups of men who may already be linked together socially (a group that works together or golf together). Focusing on the social interactions that the mentors have with each other may increase recruitment of males, as the study indicates that as a large factor.