Posted by: samramsey97 | January 31, 2019

Why Mentoring Women Matters

Mentoring relationships have been a proven mechanism for career and skill development. In fact, one of the most important ways to promote sustainable female leadership is through mentoring. In the workplace, it is crucial that women have role models to look up to, as it helps empower them within the workplace and enhance their professional and personal skills.

When done correctly, mentorships can lay the foundation for valuable professional networks throughout an entire organization for women. These networks can offer women insight into better projects, advocacy at higher levels, and mutual support amongst the other women within the network. At my internship this past summer, the was a network group within the company that was specifically designated for women of color, and, in my office, was led by our CEO who also happened to be a woman of color. Within this group, they had monthly meetings that specifically discussed diversity in the workplace, how to grow one’s own communication skills, and how to be a stronger professional. And, because it was female-led, this group had high levels of collaboration, consultation, and inclusiveness. The women that were apart of this group were able to have access to higher leadership within a close-knit professional setting that was aimed at enhancing their professional and personal skills within the company.

Female mentorship can also open doors to greater leadership opportunities, helping to crack the seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling. As discussed by Eagly & Carli, the path for women to reach the top exists, but it is a windy and sometimes hidden path – the barriers are not absolute, but the opportunities to hurdle them are not always offered to everyone. A good mentor can help women overcome these barriers – offering women insight into how the company is run and what leadership looks like within a specific organization. They can also push you to go after advancement opportunities and empower you to feel confident within your decisions.

In my own experience, my first professional female mentor came from one of my first internships a couple summers ago. She was my direct supervisor at the company I was working at . She went out of her way to treat me not only as a valued employee, but also as a friend. Her guidance in that position, and in the following years, helped show me that being a successful women within the financial services industry is possible. It was as if she managed the double bind perfectly – combining charm and competence perfectly at every turn. Her mentorship has shown me the importance of networking, how to act in certain professional settings, and how to use men and women in all positions as allies for career advancement. This mentorship experience has sufficiently molded me into the professional that I am today and has made me especially passionate about potentially being able to provide that experience for another young, female professional down the road.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizelting/2018/11/26/4-ways-women-mentoring-women-can-change-the-world/#3deb4eda3813

https://www.seattlebusinessmag.com/workplace/10-seattle-women-business-leaders-discuss-power-mentors


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Responses

  1. I agree that mentoring relationships are such an important aspect of both skill and career development. Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be an elementary school teacher. However, I don’t think I would still want to be a teacher if it wasn’t for my support system (including many women teachers who have served as mentors to me) who has encouraged me every step of the way so far. Because teaching is such a challenging job, it is not an easy career to get into. However, it is also extremely rewarding. If I had no women to look up to in this field, I think I would’ve given up a long time ago. I have volunteered in various classrooms throughout high school and college, and there is one teacher who has provided so much guidance and support in my journey to be a teacher. This teacher is one I worked with in high school, and she has been teaching for about 30 years. She mentored me for two years, telling me all about how teaching is very difficult, but it is the most rewarding and heartwarming profession. She has encouraged me when I have had doubts, supported me when I have been upset, and helped me see the incredible difference that teachers can make in students’ lives. Without this mentoring relationship, I can honestly say I might have chosen a different career path. Having someone who is older and wiser than you who you can always look up to is so important.

  2. I continuously say that people will only think about what they see, which is why representation matters. For a long time, little girls of color didn’t feel like they could be princesses because there was no princess that looked like them from Disney. Women aspiring to be leaders can often be shut down because they may not see very many women leaders in their field doing a great job and showing younger generations that it can be done. In my field, theater, there is a pretty good balance of women and men, although we are definitely a little more women based. However, a lot of popular shows have many more male roles than female roles so it is hard to be a woman actor and get into many big shows since there aren’t as many parts for them. I specifically want to go into directing, and there are not many female directors, especially not famous ones. This fact, however, never slowed me down because on my path to learning more about theater and directing, I was constantly mentored by powerful women within theater who would show me the ropes of how to get into show business and show them how good I was. It’s inspiring to be led by women before you because it makes it feel more possible that you’ll be a success in the field. Women need to help other women because if we don’t, then we’re all lost.

  3. I completely agree that mentoring is a key element to anyone climbing the latter and becoming a successful member of an organization or a leader of an organization. I’ve had a number of mentors, both in sports and throughout my educational career that have had a huge impact on who I am as a person and what my values are. I think an interesting subject to discuss is the difference between a male mentor and a female mentor to a female mentee (if there is one). Many of the quotes in the Seattle Business article you posted mentioned that their mentor was a male, and that they were grateful for the help and guidance they provided. I think this leads into a topic of male allies that we are going to discuss later in class; how can men be good mentors AND allies to women in the process? Can they be good mentors and be willing to potentially sacrifice their position or experience some of the “loss” that we talked about last class? It’s an interesting perspective to consider.

    I also enjoyed your point about your CEO leading a networking group for women of color. I recently read a book discussing the importance of this community; in my book, it talked about the importance of community and network within a group of black children at a predominantly white school. The group met once a week and, almost immediately, the group of children started doing much better in their schoolwork and were much more engaged in class. While male mentors can obviously be good, I feel like this sense of community, whether it be with people of color or women, can help empower a particular group of people within an organization.

  4. I loved your blog post because it is very refreshing and exciting to see women encouraging and supporting one another rather than being negative or demeaning to others, especially in group settings. It was interesting to see that collaboration and inclusiveness were two of the traits seen most, yet the women were still able to be competent and successful leaders in professional settings – in contrast to some of the readings that we have seen in the past. I also liked how your mentor has been able to successfully handle the issue of the double bind – I was wondering whether she passed some of this knowledge down to you because no matter the industry, this problem is almost constant. Being able to provide guidance while also being seen as a skillful leader by coworkers is enviable for many women entering the workplace, especially when considering minority women and the additional pressures that they face from society.

  5. I enjoyed reading your experience of having a female mentor during your internship. I definitely believe that having someone to look to for guidance in the work force is extremely beneficial towards your own growth, especially when following a strong woman leader. I have never personally had a female mentor, but I have always viewed successful women as inspiration to strive to be my best self. When I was younger, I emerged myself into books with strong female leads that were able to push through the labyrinth in order to complete their goals, all while having the perfect mixture of feminine and masculine qualities to lead. Though I did not have first-hand experience like you did with a mentor, I still learned a lot of strategies and tips on how to guide myself in potential leadership positions. For younger girls and women, I believe that it is extremely important to have a female mentor to learn not only through observation, but also through experience.

  6. While mentoring is important for all leaders, I think it is especially important for women leaders to mentor other women/girls. The women that have already attained higher leadership roles should share their experiences and encourage others to apply themselves. As we have discussed in class several times, a lot of women have a tendency to be perfectionists. If women leaders can have other women to forget the need to be perfect in order to lead, we will in return encourage more women to lead.


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