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Fieldwork Mentoring Program
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Sponsored by the Section for the Status of Women (SSW) and
the Gender and Sexualities Taskforce (GST) of the Society for Ethnomusicology


Program Objective:

Even with training in ethnographic methodologies, conducting fieldwork can feel like jumping into unknown waters, with little choice other than to improvise as unforeseen circumstances arise. While some of these issues can be worked through with a faculty advisor whose research and life experience differs significantly from the fieldworker's own, others benefit from the input of people who have found themselves in similar situations. This project aims to connect students and scholars undertaking new fieldwork projects with scholars whose research experiences speak to a variety of challenges related to gender and/or sexuality in fieldwork contexts. Concerns can include logistical topics, social etiquette, self (re)presentation, personal safety, and confronting harassment or abuse.

This program arose in response to a widely expressed need for a network through which students and scholars can address a range of issues that are often context-specific and of an intensely personal nature. A crucial characteristic of this program is that the information gathered in order to connect fieldworkers with mentors is kept as private as possible. Only two appointed members of the program staff have access to information provided to aid in matching Mentors and Mentees, and it is required that all program participants keep the information shared by other participants in confidence. Our hope is that this program will facilitate the candid conversation, support, and advice that many researchers sorely need.

Mentees and Mentors:

Any individual who has completed extended fieldwork can volunteer as a mentor.

A mentee can join this program at any time before, during, or immediately following fieldwork. Although fieldwork is presented here as the grounding subject for this program, junior scholars who are experiencing challenges related to gender and/or sexuality within the discipline can also contact the mentor program coordinator. We also welcome the involvement of spouses and significant others who will be accompanying a researcher during his or her fieldwork term, or those who have accompanied a fieldworker as a romantic partner or family member. Such individuals should complete either the mentee or the mentor information sheet (whichever one most closely approximates their situation—whether the person is looking to advise or be advised), and notify the Program Coordinator of the specifics of their situation.

How It Works:

Scholars who are interested in serving as a mentor fill out the mentor information sheet; those who would like to be paired with a mentor fill out the advisee information sheet. These are submitted to the designated SSW/GST Mentor Program Coordinator. Based on the concerns of the advisee, the coordinator will find a mentor whose experiences speak to the issues of most concern to the applicant. After contacting a potential mentor to confirm his or her availability and willingness to participate, the coordinator will introduce the mentor and advisee via email.

Mentors are expected to respond to intermittent communications from their advisees in a timely manner. They are not responsible for facilitating connections in the site of fieldwork or within academic circles, or for reading the advisee's academic prose. While a mentor might volunteer to assist a mentee in additional domains, his or her only responsibility is to help the mentee confront and process fieldwork concerns and dilemmas. A mentor's perspective does not represent the SSW, GST, or any other collective; it is recommended that the advisee weigh all advice carefully before choosing his or her own course of action.


It is imperative that mentors, advisees, and coordinators keep personal information about other participants in strict confidence. Any violations of this confidence will be taken seriously and should be reported to the SSW mentor program coordinator, or a SSW or GST chair.

A note to faculty/instructors :

Please make your students aware of this resource. As students prepare for fieldwork, you may wish to suggest they connect with a mentor at the outset, or encourage them to keep this option in mind.


Program Coordinator :

· Maintain an updated database (with the help of the tech officer)

· Respond in a prompt fashion (1 week) to mentee requests

· Keep in contact with the Program Overseer about any problems, ethical dilemmas, or any large imbalances between the number of mentors and mentees. If maintaining coordinating duties proves too large a work commitment, it is the Program Coordinator's responsibility to notify the Program Overseer.

Program Overseer :

· Keep in regular contact with all other program officers. Inform the outreach/publicity coordinator and tech officer of the program's specific needs

· Handle logistical problems, questions, and concerns that arise in the program's operation

· Step in, should the Program Coordinator become unavailable or the volume of applicants become too much for one person to manage. Access to the mentor/mentee database will be granted in communication with the program coordinator

Tech Officer :

The Tech Officer will work closely with the Program Overseer and the Program Coordinator in creating and maintaining an online presence, as well as an easily navigable information database. The Tech officer may be asked to help create surveys, or other devices through which to facilitate communication between program officers and program participants.

Program Publicity and Outreach Coordinator :

The Program Publicity and Outreach Coordinator is in charge of spreading awareness of the program. Along with the Program Overseer, she will collect and make a record of feedback from program participants and members of the broader community who have expressed interested in the program.


Mentor Form

Mentee Form


(As of November, 2012)

Please direct any questions, comments, or concerns to the Program Overseer.

Completed Mentor or Mentee Forms can be sent to (sswgstmentoring@gmail.com).

Program Overseer: Corinna Campbell ( corinnasiobhan@gmail.com)

Program Coordinator: Ellen Koskoff: ( ekoskoff@esm.rochester.edu)

Publicity and Outreach Coordinator: Katharine Stuffelbeam

Tech Officer: Margaret Cayward

If you would like to take part in this program as a Mentor or Mentee, please fill out the appropriate form and email it to sswgstmentoring@gmail.com.

Any questions can be directed to the Program Overseer, at corinnasiobhan@gmail.com.


The Society for Ethnomusciology and its constituent groups are not responsible for any information or advice offered through the Fieldwork Mentoring Program. Information and advice offered does not necessarily represent the views of the Society for Ethnomusicology or its constituent groups.


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