How to Mentor and Support Other Women

women mentoring women

We’ve all heard the stats before – women make 53 to 79 cents on the dollar of what men earn. Only 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Less than three percent of venture capital goes to female-owned businesses. And, there are more men named John in positions of leadership across America than there are women in leadership roles, PERIOD.

Men are more likely to apply for jobs they’re not qualified for. And when companies show us that there’s room for only one woman or person of color at the table, women and POC end up competing with one another. People say that women don’t ask for raises as often as men do, but the research doesn’t back it up. Women DO ask for raises just as often as men, they just don’t get them.

And according to the World Economic Forum, none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes and neither will any of your children or grandchildren.Women won’t be treated as equal to men until the year 2227 –  more than 200 YEARS from now.

Why Mentorship

I believe it’s OUR responsibility as successful women to raise it forward—to support women by sharing our positions of power, networks and knowledge with emerging, ambitious professionals. It’s difficult to climb the corporate ladder alone when the rungs are broken. But we can PULL each other up by mentoring women..

Through mentorship, professional equality and representation are not only possible, they’re inevitable. It’s simply a numbers game. Women helping women, helping women, helping women.

You can mentor someone for 5 minutes or 5 months or 25 years. It can be formal, or informal. A mentor is simply “an experienced and trusted adviser.” Maybe your future mentee wants advice based on your own personal and professional experiences. Maybe they need constructive feedback, emotional support, connections or valuable skills.  

Sounds good? Well let’s get started.

How to Identify Your Expertise

The first step to becoming a mentor is to discover your secret sauce – that unique combination of professional expertise, personal experience, and cultural knowledge that created your success.

Professional experience is what most people look for in a mentor/mentee relationship. And it can be really, really simple. Especially if you know more than your mentee does in a particular field, just having advice on the basics can be helpful.

One of the easiest ways to identify how you can support a mentee professionally is to think about where you started, and where you are now. What changed between then and now? How can you help your mentee learn those lessons, faster?

How to Find / Work with your Mentee

So, how do you get started? Well, the first step is to notice the mentorship opportunities all around you. In your department, on your team, in the elevator, in the kitchen, in the break room. The new faces on Zoom, the old faces on Zoom that you’ve never really gotten to know. Your friends’ adult children. Your own assistant!

 When you mentor ONE person, even for five minutes, your impact is exponential. Because MENTEES are more likely to become MENTORS. Not all of them will become senior leaders, but those who do will create opportunities for women and people of color to rise in the company and join a seat in the boardroom. 

Women mentoring women is how we change the course of history – how we make gender equity a reality sooner than 2227.

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