52% of female respondents in a LinkedIn survey said they never had a mentor because they hadn’t encountered someone appropriate. In the same survey, half of the millennial women noted that they were being or had been mentored by a woman. Mentorship engagement wasn’t as ingrained in previous generations as it was for millennials.
Millennials understand the importance of having or being a mentor at some point in their careers.
For millennial women, a female mentor can provide guidance based on their experience in the work environment. Understanding how things get done can jumpstart networking relationships. They can also serve as an informational resource on policies and procedures.
For the mentor, simply by engaging in a professional relationship, millennial women can experience career advancement and compensation growth.
Though female leaders are scarce at many organizations, there are industries in which a higher proportion of female leaders exist. Such industries include apparel, retail, and personal care.
The competitive dynamic amongst professional women has decreased, increasing opportunities for female advancement. Women bring in different skill-sets than their male counterparts and increase workplace skill diversity.
A mentor who understands the challenges associated with balancing the responsibilities of work and family is invaluable. Finding a female business mentor who is an experienced professional by day and a mother by night isn’t impossible. Working millennial mothers should turn to previous generations for advice, as the majority of baby boomer women are working longer. They also generally gave birth to their first child before turning 25.
Christine recommends some thought-provoking questions for a female mentor who is also a mother:
How did you balance being a mother and professional? What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?
Navigating a career and family is challenging. Millennial women are more likely than men to experience family-related career interruptions, specifically motherhood. Women from previous generations already experienced these interruptions.
What was our organizational culture like 10 years ago for women and working mothers? Do you feel the company makes annual efforts towards improving the culture for this cohort?
For the past 36 years, women have accounted for almost half of the U.S labor force. 15% of women work in managerial and administrative occupations, up 8 points from 1980.
These two questions aren’t about if women work at the company, but are rather about whether or not women feel a sense of inclusion.
Since 2000, drastic organizational changes have made for more flexible work-life integration.
What event motivated you to become a mentor? Do you foresee transitioning from a mentor to a sponsor at some point in your career?
65% of women who have been mentored will become mentors themselves. However, only 9% offer sponsorship. Sponsors and mentors serve different purposes but have a similar desire.
For women, the transition from mentor to sponsor isn’t easy.