There's so much research out there showing that mentoring is key to helping women advance at work, whether it's about getting promotions and higher pay, making contacts to help them advance professionally, or getting the guidance to better navigate work politics.
With that in mind, you'd think that most women / female professionals would be actively pursuing mentors and that senior leaders who are women would be actively recruiting mentees...
Guess what? It’s not happening. And as a team of women ourselves, we wanted to look into why.
Why Some Women are Reluctant to Be Mentors
The number one cited reason is a lack of time. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day and your weeks are already jam-packed with things to do.
We get it. But we think there's a misconception out there. Mentorship does not have to be as time-consuming as you think - at least, not the way we're doing it.
With Upnotch, a mentoring relationship doesn't need to interfere with your work commitments or family time. It's flexible and can be adapted to your needs and schedule.
Upnotch Mentorships can be one-off, on-demand, or ongoing. You get to choose the option that fits best into your life. You and your mentoring partner can decide together how often to meet - and that can be anything at all. Once a month, once every couple of months, or even just a couple of times a year. It's whatever feels right for you!
The next big thing keeping women from agreeing to be mentors is the belief that they don’t have the expertise to take on this role. Imposter syndrome is rife amongst us women. We tend to underestimate ourselves - where men do the opposite.
This is neatly demonstrated in a report from Hewlett Packard that revealed that women apply for open jobs only when they think they meet 100% of the criteria. Men, on the other hand, respond to the posting if they feel they meet 60% of the requirements.
Why Some Women are Reluctant to Find Mentors
Women also tend to be more hesitant to reach out to potential mentors. We've discovered that this is often tied to a fear of rejection - fear that the mentor will not accept them as a mentee.
But in this case, the fear is so much worse than reality because it results in so many missed opportunities!
Think about it. If you do ask someone to be your mentor, what's worst that can happen? They say no or they don't answer! Don’t take it personally. It's most likely that the mentor in question is simply unavailable at the moment. That's why Upnotch can play such a significant role. If one person doesn't work out - you just go ahead and ask the next person on your list of potential mentors.
A second reason women are reluctant to find mentors is that they want to be perceived for what they are - capable, knowledgeable, strong, and efficient. They often feel that seeking mentorship may demonstrate the opposite - and be perceived as a sign of weakness.
To that, we'd just like to say that the most successful people in the world - regardless of gender - got where they are today because they had help. Many had amazing mentors to guide them and keep them from making mistakes that would otherwise have derailed their careers or slowed them down.
Psychologically speaking, women tend to decline opportunities more than men. We see this a lot ourselves when we invite women to join Upnotch. Whether it's as a mentor or mentee, we get the answer “Now is not a good time” approximately 4 times as often as we do from men.
The thing is, it’s never a good time for anything.
It’s never a good time to take a break, never a good time to get married, have a baby, learn a new skill, or indeed, have a mentor. People will always be busy. It's about priorities. And prioritizing mentorship is really just prioritizing yourself and your own career growth. If you don't make it a priority - it won't happen. And countless opportunities will simply pass you by.
Many believe that hard work and long hours will be enough for their career advancement. But the truth is that hard work alone is not enough.
In most industries - in the US and around the world - there's still a gender imbalance at the top of professional careers. That's why mentorship is crucial for women. It can help to overcome those barriers to leadership positions and it can help battle traditional stereotypes that can often hinder a woman's professional development.
If you're a woman and you're not sure about mentorship, we encourage you to join Upnotch today. You don't have to commit to anything you're not ready to commit to, but it's worth it just to see the amazing advisors who are just one click away from being in your ear!