Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Ken Killebrew, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kelly Werder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kelli Burns, Ph.D.


Communication, Women Entrepreneurs, Work-Life Balance


This phenomenological study expands from current mentoring literature within the mass communication field in understanding how mentoring can contribute to the successful careers of public relations entrepreneurial women. While many scholars indicate that mentoring is effective for women, the present study describes how mentoring has affected the women participants' public relations careers and personal lives. In-depth interviews focused on following five research questions: What have been the key contributing factors in the success of public relations women entrepreneurs? How has mentoring helped the women participants achieve their goals in a public relations career and in starting their own company? Which mentoring strategy (formal or informal) is perceived as being most effective? Do women benefit more from having a women mentor versus male? What motivating reasons attributed the public relations women participants to undertake their own business? The qualitative interview data generated six common themes which are: (1) networking, mentoring, building key relationships and a strong work ethic as being key to their success, (2) career mentoring from university faculty members and/or Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) as an integral part in the commencement of their public relations careers, (3) mentoring affirmed their self-worth, (4) informal mentoring being perceived as more beneficial due to the long lasting relationship that follows, (5) male mentors being as effective as female mentors relative to career issues, although women provide both career and psychological mentoring, and (6) mentoring, lack of employment opportunities, and a better work-life balance being the three main key contributing factors in women professionals starting their own public relations company.