Mentoring

Benefits of Women Mentoring Women (Plus Tips on How to Start)

Women mentors make the best support agents for other women to break barriers and advance in their career.

Together Team

Published on 

October 13, 2023

Updated on 

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The world of business has changed. The shift from manufacturing-based economies to service-based economies has been accompanied by a steady increase in the participation of women in the workforce. But, while there are more women in the workforce, there aren't too many in senior management roles such as directors, VPs, and the C-suite.

One of the key reasons why women fail to make it to the C-suite is a lack of mentorship. Studies show that mentoring can increase an employee's chances of being promoted by almost 80%. Conversely, when women lack the direction and experience of a mentor, they are less likely to be promoted too.

Women not only need mentors to elevate them through the rungs of the ladder, but they're also more likely to prefer women mentors in some cases.

Let's take a look at the benefits of women mentoring women and how you can get started.

The gender diversity challenge

Research shows that the proportion of women in the workforce in the 1890s was a measly 17%, which has now increased to approximately 42% — indicating a huge improvement. But this statistic hides a dark truth. Even though the proportion of women in the workforce is now quite high, only 32% of women are in senior management roles. The numbers become even worse when they’re analyzed across different industries.

It turns out that while women are represented adequately in a few industries, they are underrepresented in industries such as manufacturing (24.6% women), agriculture (23.3%), supply chain and transportation (23.0%), oil, gas, and mining (18.6%), and infrastructure (16.1%).

This underrepresentation can be pinned down to three major factors: gender-based discrimination, a lack of resources available to women, and a lack of guidance. While it’s difficult to change perspectives and biases overnight, we can definitely provide women with the right resources and guidance to move forward in their careers.

One-on-one mentoring, community-building workshops, and education on how women can identify and achieve their goals are major ways to help more women earn leadership roles.

Why women mentoring women matters

Women face some unique problems in the workplace. Some of these include under-representation, gender pay gap, pregnancy discrimination, unfair treatment, and harassment. Most of these problems might be hard for a man to fully understand or sympathize with, as they may have never faced them.

If women work with women mentors, they can learn from each other's unique experiences and learn how to navigate workplace challenges better.

Let's take a detailed look at the problems women face in the workplace and why women mentors are the best help they can get.

  • Underrepresentation: Women are severely under-represented at the upper and senior management levels. Only two-fifths of all managers are women, according to a recent report. Women at senior management levels can guide other women on how to best advance their careers with relevant skills. They can also help other women expand their network and open the doors to more opportunities.
  • Gender pay gap: For every dollar that men make, women earn 77.9 cents. According to a 2018 report, the median wage for women is around 22% less than the median salary for males. Women mentors can teach women how to negotiate for better pay.
  • Pregnancy discrimination: Pregnant women who are dismissed, refused employment, or subjected to other forms of discrimination because of their pregnancy or desire to get pregnant constitute pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Pregnancy discrimination often takes the form of being fired after disclosing one's pregnancy to a potential employer, being dismissed during maternity leave, or having a wage cut as a result of being pregnant. Women mentors can educate other women about maternity leave, how to negotiate pay and time period of leave, and laws around pregnancy discrimination.
  • Unfair treatment and harassment: A Harvard study suggests that even if a man and a woman have the same amount of contacts and work at a similarly productive rate, they are still unfairly treated due to inherent gender bias. Another survey suggests that over 40% of women in the workplace have faced sexual harassment. Women mentors can train their peers on how to navigate such workplace scenarios and who to contact in case of an incident.

How to build an effective women mentoring women program

Now you know why it’s important to allow women to mentor women, let's look at how you can best adopt this strategy at your workplace.

Step 1: Secure leadership buy-in 

Mentoring programs without top-level support will likely be seen as irrelevant and not be used by a large proportion of employees. Convince your leadership to endorse your women mentoring women program with the help of relevant statistics and examples mentioned in this piece.

Step 2: Establish the goals of mentoring 

An effective mentoring program has clearly defined goals. These goals should focus on what the mentor and mentee hope to gain from the mentoring program. Sample goals for mentees could be to conduct X surveys by the end of Q3, run X client meetings, or complete X number of reports in a given time.

Step 3: Choose the right mentors

To make an impact, a good woman mentor must have three crucial skills:

  • Commitment: The mentor must be committed to the primary cause/goal of the program as well as to becoming a mentor. If mentors are not committed to helping others, then even the most meticulously planned program will fail.
  • Good communication skills: A good mentor needs to have strong communication skills to effectively impart knowledge and explain concepts to mentees.
  • Open-mindedness: A mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. While mentors provide guidance, mentees provide fresh perspectives and ideas, so it's important to make them feel heard.

Step 4: Provide mentorship training

Mentors might have years of experience, but not everyone can teach effectively. If mentors use complex terms to explain concepts, mentors might not understand them and hence not use their advice too. Train mentors about how to teach and advise mentees for best results. You can also train them to use the latest technology, so they're on the same page as their mentees, as far as tools are concerned.

Step 5: Use mentoring software to get the most accurate matches

Making mentoring matches is difficult, as you need to consider a wide range of factors, including job roles, goals, personality types, beliefs, communication methods, personal experiences, ambitions, and work styles. What's more, if you manually analyze all of these factors, you'll be spending a lot of time and also likely make an error. Mentoring software such as Together can take care of such tedious work to make the best matches for you. Simply input variables like job role, work preferences, and goals, and voila, the perfect matches are ready for you.

eBook Best practices from real world mentoring programs

Success stories of women mentoring women

To understand the relevance and importance of any proposed L&D idea, it helps to look at examples of the idea being implemented or used elsewhere.

Here are two testimonials of successful women and how having a women mentor helped them reach where they are.

Ruby Zefo: Ruby is currently the Chief privacy officer and the chair of an AI executive council at Uber. While speaking about her mentor, Sol Kau, Ruby says “The confidence she showed in me allowed me to have a lot of confidence in myself, and it turned into a virtuous cycle.”

Ruby recalled the time when she was still at her first job at GTE HQ and she was given an extraordinary amount of responsibility considering she was a new college graduate. Sol mentored and guided Ruby during this period and pushed Ruby to become the best version of herself. Ruby even goes as far as to say that she felt like she could do anything if she was willing to learn and work hard. This is the kind of impact the right women mentor can make on a young mentee.

Libby Roy: You've probably used the popular online payment system, Paypal, at least once. Did you know one of PayPal’s most important executives had almost given up on the corporate industry? Libby states that she started as an occupational therapist, but was only convinced to pursue her talents in the corporate world after some guidance and support from her mentor. “She said to me: ‘You’re a strong woman and a fantastic health professional, but you seem to be better at, and more interested in, the business side of things. I think you should go back to school.” So, I did just that.” Libby then went on to become the Vice President and the Managing Director of PayPal Australia, eventually even becoming the CEO of Bravura Solutions from 2022 to 2023.

Tips for measuring the impact of a women mentoring women program

Assessing the effectiveness of your Women Mentoring Women (WMW) mentorship program is crucial for continuous improvement. The most effective way of evaluating such a program would be using Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation.

  • Reaction: For any L&D program to work, individuals must consider the program to be worthwhile. This can be gauged by measuring how actively participants contributed and how they reacted to the training. It also allows you to identify crucial areas in the program structure that might have been missing. Employee satisfaction surveys are a good way to gauge what participants feel about your mentoring program. 
  • Learning: Before the mentoring program starts, the knowledge, skill level, and attitude of the participating women must be determined. Then, a certain period after the start of the program, test the mentees based on the same three parameters and see the results. This shows how mentoring has improved participants' knowledge, attitudes, and skills. 
  • Behavior: Set up a long-term strategy to measure the behavioral changes in participants. This evaluation must last a few weeks or even months, while the organization as a whole tries to make sure that they are creating a favorable environment for the participating women to thrive. See if participants are more confident about their work, willing to raise their hands more often for opportunities, and have a more positive attitude toward their work. 
  • Results: The final way to measure the effectiveness of a mentoring program is to see if the results of the program match the goals you had set initially. For instance, if one of the goals was to increase the number of women managers in a company, have you met that goal? If a mentee's goal was to close more sales in a given month, have they met that? This should give you a good idea of how well your mentoring program worked. 

Use technology to launch a world-class program for women

Women mentoring women programs play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and promoting professional growth for women. By providing guidance, support, and connections, these mentorship programs enable women to overcome challenges and propel their careers forward.

But setting up such a massive program can prove to be difficult, even for the most efficient organizations. So, to take the hard work out of setting up a mentoring program, its best to use the Together mentoring software. 

Together software helps you analyze hundreds and thousands of employees and helps create the perfect mentor-mentee matches. It also allows you to make matches based on factors like gender and location, so its easier to set up a women mentoring women program. 

Ready to launch your mentoring program? Book a demo

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