Why Women Need Mentors (And Where to Find One)
In business, it’s not just what you know — who you know matters, too. That’s why mentorship through platforms like Virago Network is such a valuable tool for professional women. Whether it’s connecting with women who have been in your shoes or finding an ally at work, mentorship can be the launch point for women’s career advancement.
With so much to gain, why have 63% of women never had a formal mentor? Most women don’t know where to start. 44% of organizations lack a mentorship program and in many companies, there simply aren’t enough senior women to go around. Finding a suitable mentor shouldn’t feel like a wild goose chase for women at work. Here’s how you can find a mentor to help your career.
How Mentorship Helps Women’s Careers
It’s a well-established fact that the people you surround yourself with influence your growth. So when you want to propel yourself to the next level, it makes sense to partner with someone who’s already achieved the success you’re chasing. When women team up with a mentor, they benefit from improved:
- Career development
- Personal development
- Job satisfaction
- Workplace confidence
Mentors achieve this through personalized career guidance and support. A mentor helps a mentee develop a structured path for career development, identify professional development and networking opportunities, and learn how to balance professional and personal demands.
Mentors may also serve as sponsors. Sponsors use their influence to advocate for and advance the career of their sponsee. Unlike mentorship, which occurs one-on-one with a mentee, sponsorship generally takes place behind closed doors with senior leaders. A sponsor may be another woman but there are benefits to finding a male sponsor.
Where to Find a Mentor
Where do you find a mentor if your company isn’t among the 56% with a formal mentorship program? External mentorship resources help women find a suitable mentor outside their organization.
Take Virago Network for example. This global community of professional women not only helps members connect with other working women and industry leaders, but it also spotlights women leaders so there’s always a fresh dose of inspiration.
Virago Network isn’t the only mentoring network for women. Whether you’re in business, tech, science, academia, or another field, there’s probably a mentorship program for you. Here’s where to look when you need a mentor:
- Your existing professional network.
- Professional associations in your industry.
- SCORE (for small business mentorship).
- Career counseling services specific to your career goals.
Don’t rule out finding a mentor within your company. Even without a formal mentorship program, it’s possible to establish a mentor relationship with a female leader at work. If there’s a woman you admire, reach out. Explain why you’re interested in her work and what you hope to gain from a mentorship relationship. It’s also important to make sure a mentor is the right fit before making the ask.
How to Make the Most of Mentorship
Choosing the right mentor is important, but that’s not the only factor influencing the success of a mentorship. It’s also up to you to be a good mentee.
- Have well-defined goals. While your mentor helps with the roadmap, it’s up to you to know where you want to go. Keep your goals realistic and time-constrained and enter the mentorship with a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Respect your mentor’s time. Mentoring is just one of many responsibilities on a professional’s plate. Establish a timeframe for your mentorship relationship, follow a consistent meeting schedule, set agendas, and use email to keep your mentor updated between face-to-face meetings.
- Be open to feedback. Hearing criticism is never easy, but sometimes mentorship comes with hard truths. Learn how to accept feedback, both positive and negative, without letting emotion take over. Take notes to help you implement constructive criticism rather than brushing it aside.
It’s difficult to accept that working harder isn’t always enough to get ahead. But when you’re a woman at work, you can’t afford not to use every tool in your kit. Whether you need career planning advice or a cheerleader in the workplace, take the leap and find a mentor. With the experience, wisdom, and influence of a mentor, you can finally take the steps to get ahead in your career.
For more resources for growth and stories that inspire, explore the Virago Network website!
This year has sent various unexpected situations our way. One of the biggest shocking events was COVID-19 that largely affected the world and the majority of our day-to-day lives. Instead of going about our regular routines, the majority of us were spending more time at home — more than many of us were used to. For some of us, it set a full wave through our way of way of living. And for others, it may have only adjusted your working situation.
While this slow time started to hit, many companies had to shut doors and halt production to prepare for the unknown. Yet, women-lead businesses and industries seemed to have been hit the hardest. Many are starting to label this recession as a she-cession — pointing out the overwhelmingly negative effects on working females. Forty-seven percent of jobs held by women are within the three industries hit hardest by COVID-19; hospitality, education, and health services.
Not only does this take your career for an unexpected detour, but it also hinders your budget. For instance, making rent or paying for groceries becomes harder than normal when you don’t have your monthly income to fall back on. To add to the cake, many industries had to shut down operations for a short period of time to stop the spread. Many of those industries were ones that people could benefit from after losing their jobs; the service, hospitality, and educational services.
During these events, it is heartbreaking to see business women diminish with all their hard work. While returning back to work is still made possible, it’s definitely a harder market to get into. While building your resume back up and taking the leap into your next career path may be a great fresh start, it’s hard for women that were affected by this she-cession to go unnoticed.
To help out women in the community, we compiled our tips to getting back into the swing of things. Also be sure to check out the infographic below for more insight about the she-cession and tips to navigating this change.
How to bounce back from a she-cession
This time is hard for anyone that may have lost their job, Yet, it’s how you handle the unfortunate news that could propel your career. While getting back into the job market after getting let go can be hard, you and your budget could profit in the long run. To really get back into your workflow and find the right fit for you and your expertise, follow our top tips below.
First, take some time to breathe
If you need to take a step back, take a step back. Hearing the news that you’re being let go isn’t ever easy. It completely flips your world upside down. You may not be able to pay the bills you have coming in every month, and you may not be able to afford your morning coffees. The things you love the most are more than likely being cut out of your budget.
To take in this change and really evaluate your next steps, take a while for yourself. Start up a new (and inexpensive) hobby, or take up journaling to help you understand your thoughts a little better. From there, you may feel like you have a better idea of what you’d like to do with your career. Not to mention, you may find a new motivation for it.
Touch your toes back in the water
Now it’s time to start the search. Create an account on online job sites or check out local businesses that may need some extra help during this time. Even though many of us are still settling in at home, the holiday season is upon us. There are most likely many businesses that would need your help to get through the season.
Start looking through career opportunities to see what resonates with you the most. Are you wanting to take the same career path before or pivot it? Are you wanting to have the same or more benefits in your package? Really dig in deep and see what career positives could come out of this situation.
Craft your resume to perfection
It’s time to start on your resume. Whether you haven’t used it in a while, or you’ve been perfecting it for a while now, it’s time to put it to the test. If you don’t want to design your own resume, there are many different free templates online, or premium ones that may cost you a little more on Etsy.
Once you find the right template for you, make it perfect! Fill out all your job expertise, achievements and skills. Once it’s completed, send it over to a few friends to take a peek at. If they have any edits, be sure to make them before sending or handing them out. And, always keep your head up and your confidence high!
9 TED Talks Every College Grad Needs to Hear on Life, Money, and Career Success
If you’ve just graduated, congratulations! This may be one of the most important achievements leading up to this day. You’ve finally checked off everything you needed on your class list, and you’re ready to jump right into a career. Or, you may be wondering what you’d like to do with your degree.
Graduation can sometimes be a weird stage of your life. Instead of attending classes with your closest classmates, you may be heading to meetings. You may be wondering if you’d like to get right out into the real world, or wait it out. Either way, the world is finally your oyster, and you get to go out and make the most of it.
Post-college you may be asking yourself the hard questions. For instance, should you get a roommate or live on your own? What career path should you take your degree? Do you want to stay in the town you reside in, or move across the country? What should your monthly budget now look like? The world is your oyster — you’re now able to do what you want, when you want, and how you want without having school in the picture.
During uncertain times, you may find yourself stressing about this more than normal. From figuring out what area you’d like to apply your degree, to moving across the country, or even learning how to live on your own. Sometimes, getting your feet on the ground can be a little shocking. Even though college may have taught you a lot, there may have been some things that have fallen through the cracks. From how to manage your life, money, and passionate projects like a boss.
Career Tips You Wish They Taught in School
Honestly, school may not have taught you everything you wanted to or needed to know. For instance, how to balance your checkbook, or even how to nail an interview. You may have got a degree in something that’s just not right for you. If you find yourself wary of what you want to do after college, you may want to take a gap year, or learn how to make a career change if you later choose to take a different path.
When I first started out of college, along with many of my classmates, this was a stressful question. You feel like you’re committing your life to your first job. It does show an impact on your resume, but it doesn’t have to control your entire career journey. Not to mention, setting the right goals to reach the career of your dreams and making sure you perfect your skills that you’re passionate learning about.
Money Advice to Make You Humbly Rich
Most of the time, we get out of college and you think you’re going to be rich. You definitely may find a career path that pays well, and you may not have to pay any debt back. But, for those of us that have student debt, and may not have been paid what we thought we would right out of the gate, you may be looking for money management resources. To get rich, you may have to exercise the habit of being smart with your money.
To save more and spend less, you have to trick your mind into saving more money and switch around your money language. Turns out, if you think and talk about your money goals you want to reach in future tense, you may not be likely to meet them. Instead, think about your goals as if they are in the present day. Not to mention, learning and changing your money habits. Who knows, you may use shopping as your therapy, and you may not have actually been honest with yourself. You most likely aren’t able to fix something you don’t know needs to be fixed.
Life Advice Straight from the Experts
Growing up can be a culture shock — especially when you’re coming out of college. Most of the time, when you’re in college you’re surrounded by those going through the same things as you. You many feel comfortable asking questions, working together, and trying to understand the in’s and out’s. But, when you step foot into the workplace, you may be working with people of all ages and experience levels.
You could be working with CEO’s, directors, associates, and clients from all over the world. Not only can this be intimidating for some, it could also hold you back from asking questions you want or need to ask. You may be faced with hard questions you never thought you’d have to make, or even break habits you’ve had for years.
Two Ways Women Can Combat the Gender Wage Gap Today
Women have a history of jumping through hurdles on their journey up the corporate ladder. Fighting for equal pay is one of them.
While the pay gap is shrinking, we still have a long way to go. A study done by Glassdoor analyzed over 4000,000 positions in 2019 and found that the current unadjusted pay gap between men and women is 21.4%.
To help women overcome this disturbing reality, we’ve included some top ways to overcome this obstacle below.
How to Combat the Gender Wage Gap Today
While it is true that the wage gap is shrinking, there are still many industries where this is not the case. Below are two major ways women can overcome this obstacle.
Mentorship: Women that have been trailblazers in male-dominated professions are often available as mentors, even looking to help other female candidates to help raise up. The more women that can be mentors, the more it is possible to break into a particular profession. Searching for a mentor through associations and networking opportunities is a great plan. Network with like minded individuals and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Negotiation tactics: Women are less likely to use aggressive negotiation tactics in an interview and therefore tend to settle for lower salaries. Investing in learning negotiation strategies has been shown to level the playing field significantly. Some other potential strategies simply require a change in thought process. For example, it’s been demonstrated that women negotiate more effectively on behalf of others rather than advocating for themselves. By thinking of negotiations as affecting, for example, other women in the field, colleagues, or family members, a woman can learn to negotiate for themselves more effectively.
By connecting with mentors and learning the right strategies for negotiation, women in the workplace can work to try to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with the gender wage gap.
This article has been contributed by Sierra Skelly from Siege Media.
Incredible Things Happen When Women Support Women in the Workplace
“Keep Aside Competition and Nurture Collaboration” ~Mani Mukhija
Our minds have been trained to compete against each other since there used to be a scarcity of opportunities at the top as compared to the number of aspirants. This mindset has been residing deep within our unconscious mind which is not ready to change. We have tried this strategy over years now. Hardly a few women could be successful with this competitive approach while the majority of women lagged behind when it came to making it up to the decision-making table. There are so many researches that prove the number of female representation in the board rooms is very less as compared to men.
Knowing that the competitiveness has created barriers for women in the workplace and there have been impediments to their professional growth, it’s time we keep aside competition and nurture collaboration.
The time has changed. There is neither a scarcity of opportunities nor the lack of talent pool in the industry. So, why compete against each other? Why not follow a more tactical approach to raise ourselves while lifting other women up.
Until now, we have been trying to fit-in the men’s club at workplace where we could never feel belonged and could never form an equation of parity. This has been the biggest reasons we lack representation of women in the C-suites.
So, here are some of the ideas to support women professionals in the workplace which in turn will help them grow professionally:
Build a strong network
Trying to fit-in the men’s club at workplace hasn’t worked in any ways to improve our professional growth & status. Women have been made to justify their capabilities at each rung of the ladder while men easily get to the higher positions since the decision-making tables are male-dominated and the unconscious bias tend to follow the trend to give preferences to a male over a female.
However, this in any way doesn’t mean or prove that women are less capable than men in any ways. We just need our own club where we our valued, respected and heard. Forming or joining a women-centric network can help exchange viewpoints and seek advice and support for other women who have faced and tackled similar issues. This sure empowers to grow together.
Virago Network is one such junction where women connect and carry the feeling of sisterhood along the networking journey. It’s a newly launched platform and can be imagined like ‘LinkedIn for Women’ where women professionals connect to support and uplift each other. Remember, we’re better together by all means!
Celebrate the differences, raise one another
No two women are alike in personal traits and professional qualifications. Then, why not benefit from our differences by sharing our traits and experiences with one another to raise ourselves. We need to give up on the competitive attitude. Rather start to respect other’s talents and learn from each other. Researches have shown that women are underrepresented at the top. If we knit strongly together to form a pack, we can eliminate gender inequality in the workplace. We need to also build a circle of trust with one another and have each other’s backs when in need. We need to hold each other’s hands to empower and uplift our societal and professional status and gain parity in the workplace because United We Stand and Together We Win!
Keep Aside Competition and Nurture Collaboration
A true leader is someone who is a great team player first. If you want to grow as a leader, be genuine to your goal and work towards it. You first need to be a supportive team player and a mentor. A true leader is one who leads by example. So, amplify other women by collaborating within the network by providing professional advice and support. Nothing can be more gratifying than making the sincere efforts to help change the place of women in the workplace and bring gender parity by helping each other grow together. Remember, we need our supportive network because it is important for our career as well as mental well-being.
The message to the women professionals is that they should not underestimate the power of women supporting each other at work. When women lift each other, they model the respect and opportunity they wish to see. And the change is bound to happen!
-by Mani Mukhija
What it takes for today’s homemaker to be tomorrow’s leaders
-By Mani Mukhija
Millions of women take extended breaks from work for various reasons across the world. A few most common reasons for women quitting their jobs are marriage, relocation, childbirth, caring for the elderly and social circumstances. Childbirth is one of the most prominent reasons of all, most women go on a maternity break. While there are some women who succeed in getting back to their jobs right after their maternity leave was over, most tend to extend their maternity break and it can range anywhere from 3 months to several years.
While some are glad about the break as they could spend quality time with their children and take care of all their needs, other women aren’t content. They soon become restless. They discover something to be substantially missing. Losing their true potential, identity and financial independence make them lose their confidence. After all, being a career woman once isn’t satisfying for them to just be a homemaker now.
Longer breaks lead to career gaps. It becomes challenging for women to get back on the career track after being a homemaker for a while. Taking a break from work has been as liberating for them as it has been daunting, depending on their reasons and situation. But getting back comes with its own set of challenges.
Not to mention that many of these women are highly educated, professional women who leave their high-profile career positions to be home with their kids or fulfilling their social obligations. They are the ones who attained their educational degrees from reputed universities.
In spite of their high educational portfolios, most women returners continue to face the triple whammy of unconscious bias: gender, age and lack of recent experience. They too often are tarred with the ‘homemaker’ stereotype – assumed to be unambitious, low in self-confidence and inflexible. It’s not easy for them to “jump back onto the corporate fast train”.
They are being questioned about the career-gap and latest skillset. They’re shocked, dismayed and disappointed that they aren’t being welcomed back with open arms at the same lofty salaries and titles they once enjoyed. They have to go down the corporate ladder before they can ever go up again.
How to smash that glass ceiling, while raising a family? How to get back in the workforce?
The Recommended Solutions
Reentering the workforce can be intimidating for anyone, but it is particularly intimidating for women who have been out of the workforce for years. Normal fears of a stay-at-home woman may include seeming out of touch or behind in skill level. You may even worry that a potential employer won’t be able to relate to you or understand how hard you have worked to take care of your home and children over the years. Don’t waste time trying to stamp out these fears. Instead, focus your energy on your dream career to get back into the workforce with confidence. Some of the recommendations below can work wonders.
- Pump up your networking– Do your best to stay in touch with former work colleagues during your time off. Networking provides leads which can help get a job.
- Update your skills– This is your time to invest in your future. If you’re not up on the latest technology or changes in your former field, consider signing up for courses or certifications which can help bridge the knowledge gap.
- Stay involved– Volunteer or freelance on projects as much as possible. This certainly helps prepare you better for returning to work. By freelancing or volunteering, you stay hands-on with multiple tasks and deadlines, doing a multitude of other things adds confidence and valuable skills that can benefit employers.
- Discover yourself– Make the best out of this career break. Try to discover yourself. You may discover a particular skill or strength that you never paid attention at. Work on that skill passionately and become a better version of yourself. This will not only boost your self-confidence but will also help you distinguish yourself when reentering the career world.
The corporates need to understand that returning women professionals are highly talented, experienced and motivated. They will get back up to speed very quickly once they are back in the workforce. The only thing they need to pick up the pace is the support and opportunity to prove themselves again.
Some of the steps that corporates can take to leverage their potential are:
- Options like work-from-home and part-time jobs will allow women to balance their professional and personal lives and ease their transition back to full-time jobs.
- ‘Back to Work’ programs for women, which will provide flexibility and support for returnees. The companies should consider offering formal reentry programs as part of their diversity initiatives. Returnships– the returning professional internship can be an innovative solution to enable these talented women to get back to where they left.
- Offering childcare services in the office campus can help women shorten this career gap and create a work-life balance.