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Abstract

Purpose: Female athletic trainers face barriers in accessing female mentors due to the small numbers of same-gender leaders in athletic training. The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of clinically practicing female athletic trainers with mentorship. Method: Twenty-three (23) athletic trainers who identified as female and had at least 3 years of clinical experience. Interviews occurred using a semi-structured interview script. All teleconference interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A 3-person research team analyzed the data and coded it into domains and categories based on the consensual qualitative research process. Credibility was established with multiple researchers, an external auditor, and member checks. Results: Three domains emerged from the data: (1) foundations of mentor relationships, (2) the benefit of mentor relationships, and (3) the influence of female mentors. Participants identified mentor behaviors they value such as not judging, communicating openly and regularly, guiding, challenging, trusting, and supporting. Participants indicated they benefited from their mentor relationships with an evolving friendship, career advancement, administrative support, relationships management, confidence, and empowerment. Participants identified unique influences of female mentors, specifically helping them manage gender-specific challenges and modeling work-life integration. Participants stated an obvious lack of female mentors in athletic training. Conclusions: Findings suggest those that are identified as mentors, regardless of gender, demonstrate foundational behaviors that yield benefits to their mentees. However, the findings also suggest a significant absence of female mentors in athletic training. With the limited number of females in leadership or mentor roles in the field, it is difficult for females to access same-gender mentorship. With this lack of same-gender mentorship, female athletic trainers may face more significant obstacles in managing gender-specific dynamics and challenges in clinical practice.

Author Bio(s)

Lindsey N. Biggs, DAT, LAT, ATC, is an athletic trainer with Community Health Network in Indianapolis, Indiana and is a 2021 graduate of the Indiana State University Doctorate in Athletic Training program.

Connor A. Burton, DAT, LAT, ATC, is an athletic trainer at the Center for Sports Medicine and Performance at Indiana State University and is a 2018 graduate of the Indiana State University Doctorate in Athletic Training program.

Lindsey E. Eberman, Ph.D., LAT, ATC, is the program director and professor for the Indiana State University Doctorate in Athletic Training program.

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements We would like to thank Drs. Stephanie Mazerolle Singe and Christianne Eason for serving as external reviewers of our interview script. In addition, we would like to thank Dr. Kenneth Games for serving as an external reviewer and Dr. Matthew Drescher for his mentorship in improving our writing in the final stages of the project.

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