12 years ago, I gave a presentation on mentoring the World Presidents Organization (this organization consists of executives and leaders from a variety of industries). In my break out session of 30 participants, there was one other woman in the room besides myself. When I spoke about the importance of women having mentors, one of my participants raised his hand and said, “I would never mentor a woman because my wife would kick my ass!” The whole room exploded in laughter and knowing nods of the head.
A lot has changed just in a decade. And no, I am not delusional. Indeed, women have not caught up to men in terms of representation among business schools faculty, in the C-suite and in board-rooms, but I do think some of the barriers of cross-gender mentoring have become less prohibitive—perhaps because we see more examples now of successful women reaching back and helping women. In fact, just having women in leadership positions who serve as role models and inspirational mentors enable others to see what is possible.
Right now, I am not particularly happy about the unkindness that seems endemic to the social discourse in this current election cycle. However, perhaps there is a silver lining. It may be there is now a heightened awareness of the very real barriers that women face in corporate America. Respectful dialogue on gender and work can help move us forward and this can start with mentoring relationships. I see mentoring as a big part of the solution for women achieving parity in the workplace. Recently, I was interviewed by Chris Farrell for nextavenue.org. This article provides some great examples of organizations like Encore.org that are providing mentoring programs and he presents a compelling case for why mentoring is gaining momentum in a wide variety of settings.
Click this link to read the article.