Why Women Need to Be Mentors (or Find Them)

Many women didn't have mentoring, but it's never too late to get a career sherpa — or act as a guide for someone else

by Kerry Hannon • Next Avenue

Let’s call it chivalry. Most of the working women I talk to who are about my age (51) say mentors have helped them greatly in their careers. But the mentors were generally men.
Over the years, I've had a few female bosses offer guidance from time to time. But they never helped me break through any sort of glass ceiling, get promoted, boost my skills or navigate a career change.
Boomer Women and Mentors

I’m far from alone. When LinkedIn surveyed nearly 1,000 female professionals last fall, about two-thirds of boomer women said they were not being mentored by women — and never had been.
So I was heartened to come across the recent report Paying It Forward Pays Back for Business Leaders, from Catalyst, a nonprofit for women and business. The survey of 742 working men and women who had attended full-time MBA programs found that women were more likely than men to help others advance their careers.

Specifically, 65 percent of the women who had received career development support, aka mentoring, are now developing others at work, compared to just 56 percent of men. What’s more, 73 percent of the women who are developing new talent at work are assisting women, versus only 30 percent of male mentors.

“This finding," the report says, "helps bust the oft-cited 'Queen Bee' myth that women are reluctant to provide career support to other women and may even actively undermine each other.”

Click here for tips on finding a mentor

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