Mentor Mentacular: The Oft-Ignored Male Mentor and Mentee|
Brogrammers, Bankers, and Dudes – Oh My!
Why When You Think “Mentors,” You Shouldn’t Forget Guys:
There is no denying the power of the female mentor in a young woman’s life. As we usher in a new graduating class beginning their professional pursuit of unlimited success and a career of their dreams, mentors will be the individuals who give them advice, champion for their success and provide powerful feedback that will at one time or another, change the course of their careers. However, for recent graduates and young professionals alike, mentorship should be explored with many individuals regardless of gender.
What are you looking for?
Rarely does a woman seek a mentor for promotions alone. At a time when identity is wrapped tightly with our careers, female professionals are often looking for avenues to navigate business in ways the incorporate her needs. According to a study by the department of management at the Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies at Pennsylvania State University, female mentors excel at being better role models. Essentially, women offer support, personal growth as well as development. They are going to be integral in showing other women how to bridge the gender divide in many male-dominated professions.
Male mentors are just as important in a young woman’s professional life. That same PSU study concluded that male mentors can be counted on to give thought-provoking projects and visibility in the workplace, conclusions that they made from surveying 200 mentees.
While it is apparent that these findings may be associated with already-held stereotypes of men and women in the corporate world, what does resonate regardless of gender bias is that different individuals will provide a different set of skills and expertise–benefitting a mentor relationship long term. It is for young professionals to decide what they need most to advance professional and personal goals.
Right now an individual has different mentoring needs at different places in her career, and her success will come from how well she can identify those areas. Male and female mentors will bring different attributes to those mentorships. Just as The Levo League has brought together a powerful group of female and male advisors (we love Tom Cohen and Ido Leffler!), so it is for mentees to decide what they’re looking for. They need to find mentors from both sexes who will help them grow.
A mentee should identify certain qualities, fields of profession, and levels of expertise that she is looking for in a mentor and find both a female mentor and a male mentor who can fulfill that criteria. This will give her exposure to the varying skillsets that both mentors leveraged to attain their success. Both the male and the female will have built their stellar careers using very different leadership techniques and qualities, which helped them climb the ladder. And by having one of each, a mentee gets the best of both mentor worlds.
A Numbers Game
Every young female professional will confront a different leadership landscape depending on her career choice. When looking at the sheer numbers of Fortune 500 companies and the amount of female CEOs (only 18 are run by women), some young women may have to look harder and network longer to find a woman that can help champion their way to the top of that company. Thus, it is important to look beyond the gender divide to understand that a male mentor within the company and a female mentor outside the organization may be just the combination needed to level the numbers.
Certain professions may look from the outside like an “Old Boys Club” with a drastic tilt toward the number of male leaders compared to female. This disproportion, which we all seek to change for every career field, can be used as an advantage by finding a male mentor who can help integrate rising female talent into this male-dominated leadership. Then eventually, that woman will be the female leader with whom other employees look to for mentoring.
Importance of Male Mentees
A long-term look at changing the gender divide in positions of leadership reveals that we shouldn’t forget the male mentee, either. A 2009 Catalyst study found that in men with exclusively male mentors, only 42 percent had a high awareness of gender bias. However, that number jumped to 65 percent when the male had a mentor of both genders. A high awareness of gender bias means that they are more likely to champion female equality during their career. Thus, if women continue make a point to take on more male mentors, we could positively impact the workplace for everyone involved.
Maxie McCoy has a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters from Lehigh in Journalism and Media, respectively. She is the co-writer of Less Work More Money and has experience hosting for Fox Sports Southwest. Follow her @maxiemccoy