I attended an academic conference last week in Houston, TX where I had the pleasure of attending many sessions that outlined the latest in human resource development and adult learning research. However, one session really impacted me as a woman leader: the Leadership and Career Development session with presenters Dr. Patricia Moreno and Masters student Minyoung Moon.
Minyoung is out of Texas A&M and presented her literature review on on the latest trends in research regarding women’s career and advancement. Minyoung found that participation in mentorship programs, managing perceptions about flexible work schedules and developing relationships among other career-minded women were important in the career advancement of women.
Dr. Moreno is out of Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico. For her doctoral dissertation she completed a phenomenological study of the experiences of women leaders in a male-dominated society. She found several themes, including: preparation, innate characteristics, their principles and ethical values, importance placed on the job itself, balancing career and personal time and the benefits of their leadership position. She also found the majority of the women shared similar characteristics such as holding advanced degrees, impacting socially responsibility activities, enjoying challenges and competitiveness, independence and recognition.
I provide this information as context for our larger discussion during and after the presentations. In a room full of women, this was brought up:
female mentors are in short supply
female leaders tend to be harder on women
Our excellent and insightful as a room full of women leaders in academic and practitioner realms revealed a lack of women mentors in leadership roles. Also, we admitted, we’re harder on women who seek mentors. As if, we’ve paid our dues and now you’re going to as well, honey.
This is not the way to pave the way for future females in leadership positions. We should be guiding, helping, advising, trusting. Let’s not see each other as a threat, but as resources for building each others’ careers. We should be showing the way, building a bridge, making a path, blazing a trail – then inviting others to follow.
This is my call for more female mentors. Will you accept the challenge?