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!