The choice of a mentor to pair with a mentee is important to the success of mentoring and can include common factors such as clinical, educational, or research interests, gender, ethnicity, and personal characteristics. Allowing the mentee to have input into mentor selection can be helpful. Matching of mentors and mentees can occur across differing characteristics such as gender or ethnicity. It is important that the mentor understand how the factors of gender, race, or sexual orientation affect the choices made by faculty and how these factors can be an impediment to academic advancement (Thomas, 2001) and that the mentoring relationship may get more public scrutiny by other faculty. All mentoring relationships should be a safe context for frank discussions regarding the issues of race, gender, or sexual orientation within the academic environment.
Women often feel more comfortable when paired with a female mentor, while men are often less concerned about gender congruity (Luckhaupt, Chin, Mangione, Phillips, Bell, Leonard, and Tsevat, 2005). That men often approach problem-solving differently than women should be discussed early by male-female mentoring pairs. And when a mentor is paired to a mentee of an under-represented minority, the mentor should consider the academic challenges that may exist for the mentee because of marginalization or the disproportionate share of committee work shouldered by minority faculty (Beech, Calles-Escandon, Hairston, Langdon, Latham-Sadler, and Bell, 2013). The mentor should be willing to speak up to prevent activities that are not in the best interest of the academic development of their mentee. Gender, race, or sexual orientation or a faculty member should not prevent the ideal choice of a mentor for a mentee.
With one-to-one or dyad mentoring, the mentor and the mentee must make a commitment and establish a regular time for meetings. The frequency and quality of meetings will be crucial to the effectiveness of the mentoring relationship (Cho, Ramanan, and Feldman, 2011). There should also be a commitment to adequate meeting preparation and a willingness to establish a relationship that fosters trust, open communication, confidentiality, and accountability. Some recommend journaling by both the mentor and the mentee so they gain insight into how well the program is going and to assist in the reflection of the effectiveness of their communication.