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Mentors Play a Key Role in Women’s Career Success

CareerWomen.com QuickPoll Finds 62% of Women Have Mentors

More and more women are tapping into the expertise and advice of mentors, male and female, to help them achieve their career goals according to a CareerWomen.com QuickPoll released today. "Importance of Mentoring in the Workplace" reveals that the majority of women (62%) have a formal or informal mentor-someone who has influenced their personal and professional development and contributed to their career success.

The survey asked women if their most important mentors have been male or female. "We wanted to see if men or women were providing more opportunities for women and how mentors have helped these women in the workplace," said JillXan Donnelly of CareerWomen.com. "The results show distinct differences in mentoring benefits and further highlight the need to take advantage of several mentors throughout your career, both male and female, who can help provide guidance, support and advice at every stage of your professional development."

According to the poll results, 64% of women reported that their most important mentors have been male while 36% reported that women mentors have been the most influential in their careers.

The QuickPoll further reveals that male mentors help women they mentor by providing general business training, leadership opportunities, coaching feedback and advice as well as networking and advancement opportunities. Women also noted that they learn negotiating skills from their male mentors. By contrast, if a mentor is a woman, the most essential contributions include informal fellowship, guidance within the corporation, motivation and encouragement. Women also cite several areas where women mentors are essential including: sharing strategies for women’s career success, work/life balance, job share, maternity leave, advice on overcoming gender bias in the workplace, and even style advice that male mentors may not be as able to effectively address.

The results of the survey point to how a mentor’s guidance can vary depending on whether the mentor was male or female.

If the mentor was male the rankings are:
--General Business Training ..............................92%
--Leadership Opportunities................................95%
--Feedback, Coaching, Advice............................62%
--Networking/Advancement Opportunities.............76%
--Motivations and Encouragement.......................59%
--Guidance within Corporation...........................23%
--Informal Fellowship......................................21%

If the mentor was female, the rankings are:
--Informal Fellowship......................................79%
--Guidance within Corporation...........................77%
--Motivation and Encouragement........................41%
--Feedback, Coaching, Advice............................38%
--Networking/Advancement Opportunities.............24%
--General Business Training................................8%
--Leadership Opportunities.................................5%

The results of the QuickPoll can conclude that male and female mentors are both very important and each has distinct advantages. Mentors contribute their expertise and advice to assist less experienced professionals, helping them advance in their careers. They pass along skills, knowledge, resources, advice, and can provide introductions to career networking opportunities among many other benefits.

"After reviewing the results of the QuickPoll, we questioned, ’why did the majority of women respond that their most important mentors are male?’" continued Donnelly. "This may be due to the fact that men still statistically out rank women in the highest positions within corporations. As such, women often benefit from their male mentors business experience and their networks of other’s in senior management who could be influential in their career. It could also point out that mentoring programs are becoming more gender blind, or that women and men are working better together to help women succeed."

Women who participated in the poll were offered the option to share their comments. If they had a male mentor, comments included:
-- "It’s surprising to think about, but I would consider my most important informal mentors were/are male. They have provided counsel, advice, business training, especially negotiating tactics, and how to advance in a very competitive environment. As a woman, you really have to learn not just business methodology but practical know-how."
-- "I find that men have taken a more active role in providing advice and guidance in my career. They may not understand all the issues women face, but they have taught me so much about business and how things get done."

If they had a woman mentor, comments included:
-- "She helped me learn what it takes to be successful as a woman in a business environment. She gave kind, yet tough feedback and has been a tremendous asset to my success."
-- "My mentors have encouraged me, given me positive advice and support. They have helped me to value a balanced approach to work and personal life."

About CareerWomen.com
CareerWomen.com is the leading online career center by and for women. Tailored to the needs of today’s working women, CareerWomen.com provides easy access to top employers and recruiters who are actively looking to recruit women. Since 1997, CareerWomen.com has helped thousands of women find jobs in their chosen career.


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