Why more men should mentor women: Q&A with the authors of Athena Rising.

Why more men should mentor women: Q&A with the authors of Athena Rising

Ellen Patterson, Group Head, General Counsel and Chair of Women in Leadership at TD sits down with co-authors of the book, Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, to discuss how men can help drive gender equality at work through mentorship, and the benefits these relationships can have for all parties.

There's plenty of research linking diversity with better business results, increased innovation and improved talent retention. And everyone has a role to play in fostering greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

However, recent data from LeanIn.org, a non-profit focused on women's empowerment, indicates that men are increasingly withdrawing from interactions with women in the workplace. In a survey of over 5,000 participants, 60 per cent of male managers say they're uncomfortable participating in common work activities with women(32 per cent more than 2018), such as mentoring, one-on-one meetings, or socializing. This data is troubling and should prompt us to increase our efforts in support of a more inclusive work environment.

Brad Johnson, PhD, and David Smith, PhD are the co-authors of the book Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, which draws from their extensive research and experience as experts in gender workplace issues. TD recently hosted Brad and David at a Women in Leadership event where they shared their insights on mentorship, gender inequality and workplace transformation. I sat down with the co-authors to discuss their book and the topic of men acting as allies for women in their careers.

Ellen: Your book speaks to why it's vital for men to mentor women. What do you mean by this?

David: Junior women may set out to find someone who looks like them as a mentor, only to become frustrated when there are few, if any, examples. Some senior women in male-dominated businesses may also be hesitant to mentor a junior woman until she has proven herself because of the risk that this may be viewed as preferential treatment. So, we need men to be excellent mentors for women. Because many power positions in many organizations are still occupied by men today, they should be involved with mentoring emerging talent who will be the future leaders of these organizations. These male leaders can then use their social capital, networks and influence to benefit talented women and create more inclusive organizations.

Ellen: What was your inspiration in writing this book?

Brad: Companies that are working to improve gender diversity and equity focus on policies and programs to increase recruitment of women and eliminate overt discrimination. However, these efforts are destined to be fruitless if there is no focus on how men can be part of the solution for gender equity and parity. 

Having worked for the military, we knew that it might be more effective for us, as men, to start this conversation about the need for men to act as allies while providing the social science evidence from our disciplines of psychology and sociology to support the message.

Evidence consistently shows that women face more barriers in securing mentorships than men, and when they do find a mentor, they may reap a narrower range of both career and psychological benefits. When men lean in to the roles of ally and mentor for women, they stand to help level the playing field for women at work.

Ellen: What has your research demonstrated about the characteristics of effective mentoring?

Brad: An excellent mentoring relationship requires a mentor who can listen, understand and affirm a mentee’s unique experiences and dreams. Only in this kind of supportive relationship can the trust and commitment needed for real personal and professional growth occur. An excellent mentor will show empathy, affirmation and positive encouragement for their mentee. The mentor understands the importance of friendship, openness and reciprocity in the mentoring relationship while maintaining professionalism.

Ellen: Even among women, there is so much diversity. Does your research reveal differences for women who are diverse in other ways, such as women who are visible minorities or LGBTQ, for example?

David: As if things weren’t challenging enough for women at work, there is evidence that women of colour must contend with both gender and racial bias. One African-American aphorism captures the experience of women of colour at work: “You have to work twice as hard to get half as far.”

As with any bias or prejudice in the workplace, people who don’t feel valued, respected or like they belong are more likely to leave their position, experience job burnout and have lower job satisfaction. As with men or any other group, not all women have the same experiences at work. In listening and developing awareness of differences that exist within a group and how experiences may overlap, allies appreciate the complexities of multiple identities (for example, being a woman and also an African-American).

Allies seek to understand the experiences of women of colour related to having multiple obstacles to face when exposed to multiple disadvantages, often referred to as double jeopardy, or invisibility, should they not fit a certain prototype. Often, members of non-dominant cultures will "cover" or downplay the ways that they differ from the dominant culture. Aware of “covering” behavior and how it can create challenges with authenticity, allies create interactions and an environment where people are valued for their whole selves.

Ellen: Your book shares 46 tips on an effective mentoring relationship. If you could pick three that stand out, which ones would they be?


  1. Male mentors who approach mentoring relationships with genuine gender humility are most effective. Men’s perceptions about women and how they are fundamentally different from men can get in the way of a productive relationship. Men who mentor women often quickly come to understand that their female mentees are not all that different than themselves when it comes to values and priorities at work.

  2. Providing critical feedback to mentees can be a challenge for mentors due to concerns that they may hurt their mentee's feelings. However, not providing this undermines someone's ability to grow and develop by learning important lessons.

  3. Men need to be aware of who is included and who is not when there are important meetings and events. A quick look around the room should be enough to realize who is not in the room and the conversation. Women should have a seat at the table and a voice.

Originally posted on https://newsroom.td.com/featured-news/why-more-men-should-mentor-women-q-a-with-the-authors-of-athena-rising

Knowledge Is Best Shared: Nontraditional mentoring programs help companies develop employees by recognizing that everyone can contribute to knowledge-sharing.

By Arlene S. Hirsch

Jack Welch pioneered one of the first nontraditional mentoring programs in 1999. The former CEO of General Electric paired 500 top leaders (including himself) with junior associates who taught the leaders how to use the Internet. In return the associates gained greater visibility.

Two decades later, companies are using similar reverse mentoring programs and newer so-called reciprocal mentoring programs to meet a variety of business challenges.

Reverse and reciprocal mentorship programs vary in scale and scope, but they all share a common approach, says Jason Wingard, dean of Columbia University's School of Professional Studies and former chief learning officer at Goldman Sachs. "They coordinate shared learning between colleagues of diverse backgrounds to create symbiotic corporate learning."

In addition, these mentoring programs are part of a broader societal shift from a knowledge economy to a learning economy.

With reciprocal mentoring, all employees regardless of job level, age, gender, ethnicity and so on, take turns being mentors and mentees, and everyone essentially learns something from everyone.

While some organizations have been slow to adopt these nontraditional mentoring programs, others have recognized that all employees—from the most-senior executives to the greenest assistants—have knowledge and life experience worth tapping into.

"Traditional mentoring is built around the concept of a knowledge economy where knowledge flows from the top down," says Sanghamitra Chaudhuri, a lecturer in organizational leadership and policy development at the University of Minnesota. "In a learning economy, everyone is a guide because everyone has knowledge to share."

Bridging the Generation Gap

The top two reasons employers want younger workers to mentor senior leaders involve technology and relationships. Primarily, employers want leaders to learn new technologies. "Technology is the most common umbrella," says Chris Browning, president of River Software, a Colorado mentoring software company. In addition, employers want to help senior leaders "get more in touch with younger generations."

When Sachse Construction, a 170-person general contracting firm in Detroit, launched a reverse mentoring program in 2016, the primary goal was to build better relationships between Baby Boomer leaders and junior-level Millennials.

"We are a learning culture," CEO Todd Sachse says. "We are passionate about training and obsessed with learning. We started the program so that employees from different generations can learn from each other."

Each month last year, about a dozen mentoring pairs met offsite. They discussed a variety of predetermined topics, including the impact of technology, work/life balance, generational labels, education versus work experience, motivation and each workers' future with the company.

Candice Susak, the training associate who runs the company's program, was Sachse's first mentor. Among the things she conveyed to him is how Millennials value having a sense of purpose in their work and knowing that the company is making a positive impact in the world.

"The reverse mentoring program reflects one of our company's core values: 'working to excel every day.' That's something I feel passionate about," Susak says.

At the same time, the program has been a valuable professional development tool for her.

"I used to doubt myself a lot," Susak says. "Knowing that the CEO and president have confidence in me to run the program has really helped my confidence. I can see myself being a leader someday."

Reverse mentoring has also been instrumental to recruiting and retaining Millennials at Sachse—no small feat in an industry where many employers struggle to attract and keep younger employees.

Why? Because engagement is a related primary objective of any reverse mentoring program, says Laura Francis, VP of marketing for River Software.

'In a learning economy, everyone is a guide because everyone has knowledge to share.'
Sanghamitra Chaudhuri

"When we talk about the benefits of a reverse mentoring program, we usually focus on engagement first, and then retention, because engagement leads to retention," Francis says. "Millennials are quick to jump ship if they don't feel like they're being challenged and recognized."

"Millennials are going to be running the company someday," Sachse says. "If we're not listening to them and learning from them, we're going to lose them."

Building Leadership Capabilities

Experience notwithstanding, many senior executives don't have the skills needed to lead a 21st century workforce shaped by rapidly changing technology and staff demographics. Reverse mentoring programs can help remedy that deficit.

When PwC Consulting in London launched its program in 2014, the top objective was to help leaders become more effective at heading diverse teams.

"We wanted to help partners in our business get a clearer perspective of what it's like for women and employees from different ethnic backgrounds to work in the business and take that into account in their decision making," says Kalee Talvitie-Brown, partner and head of people. "The program makes them better leaders, and that makes for better client engagements."

The program also encourages junior-level mentors to be more proactive and develop their own leadership capabilities.

Kam Dhaliwal, 30, is a mid-level manager at PwC who's currently mentoring a senior leader. Although she was initially nervous about participating, she found that she benefited greatly from the relationship and from the quarterly meetings she attends with other mentors.

Workers Lack Confidence


Source: Deloitte

When mentors and mentees meet, while each conversation may be fluid, it's important for the participants to have an open discussion about their expectations for the relationship.

"With my mentee," Dhaliwal says, "we talked about our different backgrounds―what my experience is like as a woman from a different ethnic background, about well-being, diversity and inclusion, and reverse mentoring."

For him, she said, "it was important to talk about communications, leadership and how to ensure that he has an inclusive leadership style."

That type of education is essential. "Regardless of the topic, the most important element of the discussion is not the information exchange; it's leadership development," says David Smith, co-author with Brad Johnson, Ph.D., of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women (Routledge, 2016) "Leading the discussion is a learning experience for the junior member on how to organize and present information, as well as how to facilitate dialogue."

Mixed-Gender Mentorship

When Joe Creed, VP of the finance services division at Caterpillar Inc. in Chicago, was first paired with Meghan Lundeen, an HR manager in global information systems, as part of the company's cross-gender reverse mentoring program, he found the role reversal disconcerting.

"Our discussions sometimes include various challenges she's facing, and my natural inclination as a leader is to flip the script and offer her advice and counsel," Creed wrote in a Caterpillar employee blog post. "But listening and seeking to understand needs to come first, followed by a two-way discussion on how the situation should best be handled."

Ultimately, their conversations offered him unique insights into the daily experience of female Caterpillar employees. It helped him to gain a better understanding of the company's culture and climate, he said, and to become a more perceptive leader.

Yet, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, there have been reports that some men are shying away from mentoring women.

"That sets up a false narrative that women are dangerous because they're demanding not to be harassed," says Johnson, coauthor of Athena Rising. "If you're not a predator, you have very little to worry about."

The #MeToo movement actually presents an opportunity for men and women to learn how to work together in a mutually respectful way, says Melinda Weider, director of the Reciprocal Mentoring Lab consulting company in Seattle.

'Millennials are going to be running the company someday. If we're not listening to them and learning from them, we're going to lose them.'
Todd Sachse

The company's program (which is based on Smith and Johnson's research) pairs high-potential female employees with upper-level male executives who are at or slightly above their level in the organization.

"It's a tangible solution to the problem of companies not having enough women in leadership roles," Weider says. "We approach it with a learning lens where men and women learn how to work together as equals."

Smith and Johnson emphasize the importance of using reciprocal mentoring with high-potential female employees because it's more likely to lead to greater gender equality in the workplace.

"There's an easy business case for reciprocal cross-gender mentoring for high-potential women," Johnson says. "It builds leadership skills in both directions. For him, it builds empathy, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. For her, it's an opportunity to gain recognition, visibility, and access to information and networks. It's a way to ensure that high-potential women aren't falling through the cracks."

Diversity and Inclusivity

With more women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities in the workforce, organizations sometimes find it challenging to find ways to make the most of their strengths.

Some corporate programs match employees from these different backgrounds with senior executives who can help them advance in their careers. For employees who feel marginalized, it can be a powerful tool to build trust and loyalty.

The mentoring program at Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical corporation headquartered in Indianapolis, was launched in 2015 by the company's LGBT Employee Resource Group. The voluntary program matches LGBT employees with senior leaders in order to influence and educate the leaders about this employee group.

SHRM's Tony Lee is joined by Arlene Hirsch, a recognized expert in career psychology and the proprietor of a Chicago-based career and psychological counseling firm. Tony and Arlene discuss what reverse mentoring is, how reverse mentoring fosters inter-generational connections, reverse mentoring's importance for managing a diverse workforce and reverse mentoring in the #MeToo era.

Please subscribe to All Things Work on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or wherever you listen to podcasts. Check out SHRM.org/podcasts to listen on your desktop. And be sure to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or on your podcatcher of choice. 

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Pam Elmore, director of the customer experience learning center, was "pleasantly surprised" to discover that her mentee, Wei Li Shou, was serious about learning and growing from their conversations.

"The trust that he's investing as a leader to try to learn so he can grow and influence and change the culture has really been a huge value to me," she says in an Eli Lilly video on reverse mentoring. And she adds that she finds it affirming that her company cares about the well-being of its LGBT employees.

Shou, the VP of sales and operations for Lilly USA, found their relationship transformative. One of his biggest responsibilities as a leader is to create environments in which people feel that they can succeed.

"This kind of reverse mentoring situation … allows you to really understand [and] get comfortable so you connect with everybody in your organization and then really create that environment where people feel like they can achieve and bring their whole self to work and just be happy with what they do," Shou says.

Promoting Innovation

Employees from diverse backgrounds often bring fresh ideas and perspectives that foster innovation. Because younger workers are generally tech-savvy, some of their most valuable contributions revolve around the use of technology and social media.

Spencer Osborn, worldwide managing director at Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising agency in New York City, credits his Millennial mentors with teaching him how to jazz up his Twitter posts (which had a reputation for being boring) and modernize his music playlists, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to keeping him abreast of trends in the fast-moving business of advertising, Osborn says, the program has helped boost morale and retention at the agency because the junior mentors feel like their voices are being heard.

Romaine Seguin, president of Global Freight Forwarding at UPS, recalled a time when the company was having a hard time training delivery assistants to use tablets, according to Mississauga.com, a Canadian news site. Her Millennial mentor convinced her to eliminate the tablets and train the assistants on cellphones instead. Mentoring can also evolve organically as the result of informal relationships and conversations.

"It doesn't have to be a formal program," Chaudhuri says. "It can be a mindset."

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to nontraditional mentoring is the way that it can transform a hierarchical culture into a more inclusive and collaborative environment where everyone's input is valued and where everyone can make an impact.

Arlene S. Hirsch is a career counselor and author with a private practice in Chicago.

Originally posted on https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/all-things-work/Pages/knowledge-is-best-shared.aspx

When Men Mentor Women

David Smith, associate professor of sociology at the U.S. Naval War College, and Brad Johnson, professor of psychology at the United States Naval Academy, argue that it is vital for more men to mentor women in the workplace. In the post-#MeToo world, some men have shied away from cross-gender relationships at work. But Smith and Johnson say these relationships offer big gains to mentees, mentors, and organizations. They offer their advice on how men can be thoughtful allies to the women they work with. They are the authors of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.


SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review, I’m Sarah Green Carmichael.

Over the past year, the MeToo movement has cost powerful men their jobs in industries like media, entertainment, and politics. Now, we’re starting to see a backlash against that movement, especially in male-dominated industries.

Our guests today have both worked in a very male-dominated industry – the military.

DAVID SMITH: Our own experiences came into play here in watching how women, in particular in the military, experienced the integration and certainly some of the inequities that go on in their own lives and careers. And one of the things that stuck out to us – and we find it as well in lots of organizations today across our society – is that there are lots of structural things put in place when it comes to gender in the workplace, but often we don’t talk to men about how those relationships should be managed, what they should look like. And we felt that it was really important that we write something to engage men in particular about what this should look like and how we can do this. That gender inequities are not a women’s issue; that this is something that really we reframe as a leadership issue.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: That’s David Smith. He’s an associate professor of sociology at the U.S. Naval War College. We’re also joined by Brad Johnson, a professor of psychology at the United States Naval Academy.

They are the authors of the book “Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.”

Brad and Dave, thank you for joining us.

BRAD JOHNSON: Thanks Sarah, good to be here.

DAVID SMITH: Thanks for having us here.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: I have heard sort of comments from friends of mine who work in male-dominated industries that at their organizations, there is a real drive to sort of quietly have more women just mentor women – like, let’s not make the guys do this. Let’s just have all the women kind of report to other women or be mentored by other women. Why does that not work? Why is it so important to have men mentoring women?

DAVID SMITH: Well, part of it’s just a plain numbers game and certainly as you find more traditionally male-dominated organizations and professions [and] industries out there today, the numbers just don’t support that. And in places like the military and tech and STEM and finance, you’re going to find there just aren’t as many women around, especially senior women – as you go up in the ranks – to mentor the junior women coming in.

The other, I think more obvious answer as well is that men tend to be the stakeholders – the power holders – in the organizations because they’re in the positions of leadership where they can make a difference. And so having women, again, there may be enough women to mentor other women there, but they may not be in the same positions of power to offer the same opportunities that these other men can do.

BRAD JOHNSON: Yeah. And I would also just add that guys need to be aware that when women are mentored by men – especially in traditionally male organizations – they tend to make more money; they get more promotions; they have clearly tangible career outcomes that are often better. And is this because guys are better mentors? No. It’s just simply as Dave said, because they have different kinds of positions and more power.

I also just want to note that when a guy stands up and publicly promotes and sponsors a woman, we find research showing that his end-of-year evaluations actually go up. When a woman is a public sponsor for a junior woman, her evals are more likely to suffer. You know, she’s viewed as showing favoritism; he’s viewed as a champion for diversity. So there’s even some inequity there, but all the more reason men have got to be willing to engage here.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: That kind of statistic really makes my head explode, yeah. So let’s shift gears now – maybe talk a little bit about how men can do this. How can they do a good job? What are some of the constructive steps that men can take to start being better mentors to women?

DAVID SMITH: You know we had the great opportunity when we wrote “Athena Rising” to interview successful, powerful women across every industry and profession. And the number one skill that every woman mentioned was that their male mentors were great listeners. We delved down a little deeper into that, “What do you mean by they’re great listeners?” Well, they listen with the intent to learn, like they have something to learn from me, that they don’t have all the answers, that they’re not making assumptions that because I’m a woman I must need, want… whatever. Fill in the blank there for them. Listening to understand, right? Listening with a purpose as opposed to thinking about what it is I’m going to tell you next.

BRAD JOHNSON: A couple others that really stood out. The whole issue of affirmation: That, you know, in many environments especially that are mostly male-centric, women get messages that they don’t really fit, they don’t belong; that they’re unicorns. And try and counteract it, you know, say, affirming things. Say, “You know, man, we were so smart to hire you.” Or, “That was terrific what you said in the meeting.”

I just need to go out of the way to make sure that I’m pushing back on that imposter messaging she’s getting. And then there’s been a lot of discussion in the literature this last year about the fact that women might get, you know, mentoring, but they don’t get enough sponsorship. And so part of the messaging we got from the women we interviewed was, hey, if you really want to mentor me, you need to be my networker. You need to open doors. You need to introduce me to people.

One of the people that shared a terrific story about this, when we interviewed her was Sheryl Sandberg and she said my first mentor out of college was Secretary of the Treasury, and everywhere we went he would introduce me to people on the international scale and say, “This is Sheryl Sandberg. She’s a rock star. She was number one in economics at Harvard. I couldn’t do this without her.” And after the third or fourth time, Cheryl pulled him aside and said, “Hey, Larry stop. That’s embarrassing.” And he said, “Sheryl, this is how it begins. This is sponsorship. This is how things take off for you and you need to become more comfortable with me doing this.” So the sponsorship piece is important. If you really want to be a mentor, for anybody but especially a woman, you know ask yourself, are you talking about her when she’s not even in the room? Are you her raving fan? And I think guys need to pay attention to that.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: You wrote an article for Hbr.org where you talked about the importance of mentors challenging their mentees – really pushing them out of their comfort zone and not going easy on them just because they do have that close, trusting relationship. What does that look like when it’s working well?

DAVID SMITH: Well, that’s a great point and something that’s important in all mentoring relationships, but in particular there’s a gendered aspect that we find we have to talk to men about in terms of how do we view and perceive our female mentees. And a lot of men – in the same ways it’s challenging to give direct critical feedback to women. Men might be thinking that, “Oh, I might hurt her feelings or might make her uncomfortable, and God forbid I make her emotional or cry.” And men do have this thing about tears. And we talked to quite a bit about tears and how to overcome that.

But I think that the challenge piece is really important because it does take, in many cases, getting your mentee in a situation where they are uncomfortable, right? This is were the elements and the area of growth begins. And being able to understand your mentee well enough that you know where those areas of growth are and you can put them in those. Right, and that’s what good mentors do: they open the doors, they find the opportunities, they find those stretch challenges in jobs that help the mentee to grow, and making sure that we do the same for our female mentees that we do for our male mentees out there.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: It’s funny to hear what female tears may feel like to a guy, since of course I have occasionally been the woman who has cried in a situation like that and I can sort of see the panic flit across the face of the older guy sort of giving me the advice that’s hard to hear. Do you see a lot of sort of generational differences on some of this stuff? You know, are the younger male mentors you’ve talked to doing different things than some of the older ones?

BRAD JOHNSON: I think that there is a generational difference. I think that you know it really depends on the individual male, but I think men of a certain generation, older men, can be a bit more reluctant and part of it has to do with, again, something that’s got a flavor of benign sexism. You heard it from Mike Pence, you know, a couple of years ago now where he said, you know, I’d never have a meal, a lunch with a woman who’s not my wife. There can just be that generational kind of segregating the sexes that feels appropriate, but it really undermines a women in terms of their opportunities if senior men are not willing to engage.

Now I will say not clearly, not all older men have that hang up and you do find a lot of guys who are known for being terrific allies.

DAVID SMITH: You know, I think one of the other things that – the differences in generations between younger men and older men is some of the way that we socialize our boys today. I think about the way we socialize our kids versus the way that I was socialized when I grew up. And certainly I think boys have different scripts today – social scripts to follow – if you think about, how interacting with a woman at work might be a social script that, I can say that, you know, probably the older generations didn’t have as many of those. They had to learn those once they left home.

And so for some of them, if they don’t have that script, they don’t know what it means to interact with a woman at work in a way that they’ve been taught, is they get kind of anxious about it. Right? And so one of the things we know again about anxiety is that we’re going to avoid it, right? Because we want to relieve that stress.

Or the other thing is they make fall back on a more – understanding of a social script that they do know and that might look like the, for example, the father-daughter one that we hear with older men in particular. And again, that’s a social script that I think a lot of people find to be very positive. I mean, I have a daughter, I think we have a great relationship. But it’s probably not appropriate in the workplace in a lot of ways. And then certainly we find in a lot of very traditional male professions out there where the chivalrous perspective comes into play as well – more of the benevolent sexism – and that’s kind of the knight in shining armor who’s there to rescue women. And again, women don’t need to be rescued in the workplace. That’s disempowering; it’s not giving the same opportunities as men to grow and develop.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: As I understand it – and you guys can tell me if I’m, if there needs to be more nuance here – but hostile sexism is kind of the “Make me a sandwich” and worse, you know, how we think of sexism when we think of it. But benevolent sexism when you compare that to chivalry, that might confuse people a little bit. So how do you define that term?

DAVID SMITH: Well, benevolent sexism, again, it sounds and appears to be very positive in how we approach the interaction between men and women. But in effect what it’s doing is it’s separating or denying or in other words, to put a woman up on a pedestal, right? To treat her in a way that’s keeping her from the same options and opportunities that we’re doing for men, right, is effectively doing the same thing as hostile sexism, where we’re separating and we’re discriminating on the basis of sex.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: Like, I’m not going to give her this assignment because it requires a lot of late nights and you know, she has kids at home and that kind of thing. But then she doesn’t get the assignment.

DAVID SMITH: Absolutely. Yeah. Instead of asking her.

BRAD JOHNSON: It undermines her.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: Are there things like that where the male mentors you work with have been kind of socialized to act a certain way and maybe in the process of mentoring a woman, they’re now realizing that that is not always the best way to be? Or it’s kind of expanding their sense of what they can do?

BRAD JOHNSON: Yeah. You know, the way the way guys are with each other occasionally, you know, all the bro humor, you know, you got leave that outside. That just doesn’t help. The competitive instinct – you know, a lot of guys when they get together, even mentor-mentee, you can see the competitiveness, you know, the bragging and all of that stuff. And again, not helpful and women will tell you, I don’t appreciate that, it doesn’t help me at all.

And then the whole location issue, the where – where do we meet, where do we get together? You know, if you’re a guy who tends to do all his mentoring in the evening over dinner and drinks, you’re probably not going to be mentoring many women. Women tell us: I’m just not comfortable with that. I don’t want gossip to start. I don’t want people to think that I’m sleeping my way to the top – and that’s totally not the case, but I don’t want the gossip to begin.

So guys got to think about this – create a level playing field. There was a vice president of Goldman Sachs who had a wonderful policy about this. He had a breakfast/lunch-only policy for mentoring. So he’d have his assistant only book is mentoring meetings over breakfast and lunch at a cafe. He found within just a few years he was mentoring sort of equally men and women and that was a big change for him because women felt comfortable with that.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: I’m wondering now, we’ve talked about some things to do and some things to avoid and I’m a little worried that the men listening might be starting to think: this is all so much work. I don’t want to walk on eggshells all the time. Maybe I will just avoid this after all. What do you say to guys who were like, “Gosh, there’s a lot of rules here.”

BRAD JOHNSON: Yeah. So I think over the last year or two, Dave and I have actually grown a little more impatient with those guys. There are different reasons men may avoid women right now. I think there are some guys who are using Me Too as an excuse just to stay on the sidelines and not engage. You know, honestly, they may not be a great loss when it comes to the fight for more equity.

So, you know, if you’re a guy who’s anxious and you’re worried about engaging: what will people say, will there be gossip? Will she misperceive what I’m saying? The evidence is really clear: if you have anxiety, there’s only one treatment for that, that’s exposure. So you’ve got to lean in, you have to have more coffees and more lunches and more conversations with women and do it publicly. If that’s your brand, if that’s who you are in the workplace, people don’t talk about that guy. He is just known for being a great collaborator, equally for men and women. And that’s just not a guy who has to have anxiety.

DAVID SMITH: I think one other thing that we often remind men, because I think it’s important that they understand there is a benefit for themselves, right? So we obviously know a lot of the advantages that Brad mentioned earlier about what women get out of great mentoring. The organization certainly wins because we’re keeping talented people around and we’re developing them into great leaders. But men, there’s something in it for them to, as men mentoring women or being mentored by women, we find that again, they’re getting increased access to information across the organization that they otherwise wouldn’t have. They’re getting this more diverse network. And I think most importantly we see the increase in the interpersonal skills and empathy and EQ out there that translates beyond the workplace into the home. If men want to be more successful in the workplace and at home, right, this is a great opportunity for them. Yes, there’s a little bit of work. Nothing to be scared of though. It’s good for them as well.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: As we’ve been talking about all of this, I realized that we’ve kind of been talking about men and women as these sort of big groups. There’s obviously a lot of variation within each of those groups. How do you give advice on this without kind of being too stereotypical either about what men are like or about what women are like?

DAVID SMITH: I think that’s a great Point. And as you think about in particular, as we’re grouping women into this broader entity out there, that women of color have very different experiences. And I think that’s important. Again, the basics of mentoring I think that we’ve, we’ve been talking about work the same way: understanding people’s individual differences, understanding how their experiences and challenges are very different in the workplace.

I think as mentors and as leaders in our organization, we’re going to learn that much more about their experiences. And you know, race is just one, right? There are many elements of diversity that we can learn from as we think about mentoring people who don’t look like us broadly out there. And encouraging us to take a moment to look at our own network of, again, the people that we mentor as well as who I’m being mentored by. I think both are just as important as you think about who you’re learning from, right? Whether from more senior experience or your mentee more junior experience, that you need to have a very diverse network of people so you can, you’re getting these different perspectives. You’re getting different information, you’re making yourself more effective both as a mentor and as a leader in your organization.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: So what about – you’ve sort of talked about the importance of being public about your mentorship and intervening in public as needed, but also not rescuing women. If you see – if there’s another guy in your office who’s not very enlightened on this stuff and he’s making inappropriate comments or in other ways kind of being you know, a little bit backwards on some of this stuff. How do you suggest approaching other guys about their approaches to this issue?

DAVID SMITH: Yeah, that’s a great point. And I think that there’s a few ways to think about it. Obviously it’s situationally dependent, but one of the things that we know is that if in the moment, right, if we react, we can correct. W e can react to something that happens and it’s really important because – especially if you’re in a situation where there’s other people watching, right, and other people listening. Whether that’s other men, it’s other women, you’re affecting what they’re thinking and their perceptions about what’s going on there.

And one of the things that we know is that men have a higher expectation or level of acceptance of sexism. They think that everybody else around them – their peers – have this really high level of acceptance of sexism and sexist behavior, for example, and that that’s why they’re not going to say anything. They’re not going to intervene in this case. The reality is that most men don’t. Most men are just as offended or put off by it as the rest of the women there, of course, as well.

The other side of that is – and this kind of behavior, what we call good ally behavior – and this goes not just for men and women, right, for allies of all sorts in the workplace – is that it helps the non-dominant group, right? In this case, we’re talking about women in the workplace, that it helps them to understand that they have higher, you know, they can have the confidence next time to speak up, right? When they see something like this happen, they don’t feel as much self-shame – in other words, that I brought this on upon myself in some way. And have more confidence and self-esteem in themselves. So it does affect how they feel in the moment as well as their ability to intervene or interact in the next opportunity.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: So I’m wondering if people want to get started, what is the appropriate way to begin? Because you mentioned Sheryl Sandberg earlier. She has said, you know, you don’t just go around asking people to mentor you. That’s not how it works. But, so then if you’re a mentor, I mean presumably you don’t also wander around saying like, “Hello, I would like to mentor you.” So how do you actually get a relationship relationship like this off the ground?

DAVID SMITH: It always sounds better when Brad says it. How you say it, Brad?

BRAD JOHNSON: Yeah. So Dave and I actually do this exercise in workshops where we have men and women at tables and have them practice: How would you initiate, you know, a mentoring conversation? How would that look? Because a lot of guys are anxious about this. I see this talented junior woman, she’s a rock star, but I’m just, I don’t know how to even let her know I think that about her. I don’t want it to be misperceived.

And so in the role plays you’ll have some, you know, well-meaning, but you know, maybe unskilled men just kind of look at this person out of the blue and say, “I’d like to mentor you.” And it’s creepy and it’s weird and you know, she doesn’t know what you mean by that. There’s no context.

So we tell guys, be specific, say, “Hey, I saw you do this at that meeting” or “I watched how you put together this project and that was amazing. I’d be willing to chat with you anytime, you know, I’d love to hear where you’d like to go and if I can be helpful.” You know, so you offer and you know, I think very often she’s likely to take you up on that and have a conversation. Keep it low key; don’t require anything of her. Just make you know, make it clear that you think she’s terrific and has done something very specific that you’ve been noticing and then let her follow up with you.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: Well, thank you both. This has been very enlightening for me and I appreciate the time.

BRAD JOHNSON: Yeah, our pleasure, Sarah.

DAVID SMITH: Thanks so much for having us.

SARAH GREEN CARMICHAEL: That was Brad Johnson, professor of psychology at the United States Naval Academy, and David Smith, associate professor of sociology at the U.S. Naval War College. They are the co-authors of the book “Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.”

This episode was produced by Mary Dooe and Curt Nickisch. We got technical and production help from Rob Eckhardt. Adam Buchholz is our audio product manager.

Thanks for listening to the HBR IdeaCast. I’m Sarah Green Carmichael.

Audio and original post can be found on https://hbr.org/ideacast/2018/10/when-men-mentor-women

Why Male Mentors in the #MeToo Era Must ‘Engage More, Not Run for the Hills’

By Katherine Mangan JUNE 06, 2018

Afew years ago, David M. Yousem thought nothing of having a closed-door mentoring session with a young female scientist. Now, he asks if she would be more comfortable with the door open or closed.

A naturally effusive person, he knows better than to compliment a woman on her springlike attire or to offer a congratulatory hug for a paper that’s been accepted in a prestigious journal when a thumbs up will do.

For Yousem, a professor of radiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, such precautions are "fairly simple and appropriate" adjustments he’s happy to make as a male mentor in the #MeToo era.

National surveys have pointed to a skittishness on the part of some senior men to mentor young women at a time of heightened awareness about sexual harassment. As they watch powerful men get knocked off their perches, they wonder whether an inadvertent slip could jeopardize their own careers. Some are distancing themselves from female graduate students and junior professors. And that troubles educators already worried about the leaky pipeline for women as they attempt to move through the academic ranks.


· Ghost Advising

· Relationships Are Central to the Student Experience. Can Colleges Engineer Them?  PREMIUM

· Are You My Mentor?

If men, who dominate the senior positions in many academic departments, shy away from mentoring women, those women will miss out on opportunities to enrich their studies or advance their careers, says Kim M. Elsesser, a research scholar at the Center for the Study of Women at the University of California at Los Angeles.

"Even before the whole #MeToo movement brought such heightened awareness to the issue, many male professors were reluctant to meet alone with a female student, particularly in the evening, or have a student of the opposite sex join them for lunch or coffee or anything that could be misconstrued," says Elsesser, author of Sex and the Office: Women, Men and the Sex Partition That’s Dividing the Workplace.

On the other hand, a professor who throws up his hands and says it’s no longer safe to mentor women — either as students or junior colleagues — may be simply justifying his longstanding lack of interest in doing so.

"Guys who would use #MeToo as an excuse to not engage are probably the typical old curmudgeons you wouldn’t want mentoring women in the first place," says W. Brad Johnson, a professor of psychology at the United States Naval Academy and a faculty associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins. 

"It’s probably not a great loss."

Johnson and David G. Smith, an associate professor of sociology at the U.S. Naval War College, tackled such issues in their 2016 book, Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women. Johnson says men may hold unconscious biases about women, seeing them "as nice, but not real leadership material, or in the grad-school context, ticking time bombs of maternity that are not as good an investment."

Compared to the workshops he and Smith offer in corporate settings, Johnson doesn’t hear as much #MeToo backlash from professors. But in STEM fields, where there are fewer women, men who mentor sometimes worry how others view the time they spend alone with junior women.

If they’re feeling somewhat sidelined by the national discussions about sexual harassment, Johnson says, "the one thing men can do to demonstrate that they have their female colleagues’ backs is to engage more, not run for the hills."

Surveys that have focused more on corporate than academic culture have found that too many men are heading for the hills.

The ‘Pence Rule’

A survey conducted this year for the women’s-empowerment group Lean In found that the number of men who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled, rising from 5 percent to 16 percent, since the recent media coverage on sexual harassment.

And in a poll conducted last year for The New York Times, about a quarter of the respondents said private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate. Nearly two-thirds said people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work. An extreme example of such nervousness was the U.S. vice president, Mike Pence, who told The Hill that he won’t dine alone with a woman other than his wife. Critics of the #MeToo movement, including conservative bloggers, predicted that fear of crossing some invisible line would prompt others to follow what became known as the "Pence rule."

That could exacerbate problems that predate the current national discussion. That’s because faculty members are already more inclined to mentor male students — particularly white men — than women or minority students, some researchers have found. In one study that involved emails from supposed doctoral students, faculty members were much more likely to respond to requests for guidance from people with names that were easily identifiable as male and white.

Even when men agree to take on female mentees, unintended slights can occur. Mentors who are hyper-aware of their behavior sometimes unintentionally treat women with more formality while developing more chummy connections with men. Taking a protégé to a baseball game or on a fishing trip is no big deal if he’s a man, but could potentially raise eyebrows if she’s a woman, some fear. The same holds true for asking mentees about their personal lives — something a mentor might not hesitate to do if a man was struggling. Researchers whose field work takes them to remote locations might balk at bringing along a junior woman, particularly given the federal government’s recent threats to yank fundingfrom sexual harassers.

The differences matter, because when it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation, a student who’s forged a close personal connection with a professor might receive a more enthusiastic endorsement. The dynamics, of course, can change when the professor or the mentee is gay and the same concerns about inappropriate entanglements are raised.

"Mentor relationships often develop like friendships, and you don’t get that opportunity if you’re on guard and watching your behavior," Elsesser says. "But it’s a double-edged sword." To the extent that a little more formality stops offensive behavior, it’s a good thing, she says, but when it means that women aren’t getting the same access as their male counterparts, it’s bad.

Some people complain to her that women can’t have it both ways; they can’t tell men to behave more cautiously around them but then object that they’re feeling left out.

Elsesser doesn’t buy that. "We can have it both ways," she argues. "We can figure out where the lines are so women can have a safe place to go to work where they are not sexually harassed, but at the same time, have good working relationships" that will help them reach parity with men.

Burden Falls to Senior Women

Andrea S. Kramer writes and speaks about gender-based discrimination alongside her husband, Alton B. Harris. Both are adjunct professors at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.

"Women need to be assured the same opportunities to advance in their careers as men," says Kramer. "This includes being mentored by senior men in their departments without the fear of predatory or inappropriate conduct." At the same time, she says, "Men cannot refuse to mentor young women because they fear allegations of sexual harassment."

If they do, the burden falls to the relatively small number of senior women in the department who may already be spread thin.

One way to overcome such reluctance is for universities to require senior men to mentor young women, Kramer says. Her husband, Harris, agrees that formalized mentor programs that come with an expectation of private, one-on-one meetings could remove some of the discomfort a senior man might feel working with a junior female colleague or graduate student.

"One of the drawbacks, given the reaction to the #MeToo movement, is that men of good will are hesitant to become involved in situations where there could be any suspicion that something improper is going on," Harris says, "It’s not politically correct to mention, but I think there’s a female sensitivity to behavior that, while it may be flirtatious or inappropriate, is a long way from predatory."

Mentors may opt to meet their mentees in groups, or over coffee instead of a beer. "If the complaints we’re hearing from women on their way up are correct," Harris says, maybe that’s a necessary step.

‘A Message of Mistrust’

Double standards can be hard to avoid. Take, for instance, the question of whether to leave the door open or closed during one-on-one meetings. The cautious approach is to leave it at least partially open, but that shouldn’t be influenced by the student’s gender, says Jonathan A. Segal, a partner at the Duane Morris Institute, which advises colleges and businesses on harassment and other legal issues.

Opening it only when meeting with a woman could send her the message that the professor is worried she’s going to claim something untoward happened, Segal says. That also creates barriers to confidential discussions. "If you send a message of mistrust," Segal says, "that creates mistrust."

Some faculty members are changing their behaviors in subtle ways, like ditching the office couch for a couple of comfortable chairs and a table. If a student breaks down crying, say, over a prolonged bout of writer’s block, a mentor may be less likely to offer a reassuring hug.

Sometimes, the lines are obvious. If you’re meeting with a protégé at a conference hotel, Segal says, "stay out of the hotel room. That’s why there are lobbies."

Anne Hedgepeth, director of federal relations for the American Association of University Women, says this is a good time to reassess mentoring practices.

"I don’t think it’s a bad thing for everyone to be evaluating the practices or tactics they put in place to guide and support students," she says. Mentors, she says, should look at their own unconscious biases about what they expect from men and women and should make sure they’re building relationships that are "professional and respect the boundaries of their mentees."

Yousem, the Johns Hopkins radiologist, has helped lead a Master Mentor program at Johns Hopkins that was started on the premise that not everyone is good at mentoring and that those who are should be encouraged and supported. Participants have to be nominated and attend up to 12 hours of workshops on giving meaningful feedback, handling conflicts, and encouraging growth and risk taking. They in turn agree to help their colleagues become better mentors.

Asked what advice he would give another senior man who is uncertain about the appropriate way to mentor a woman today, Yousem, who is also an associate dean of professional development, advises following common-sense rules and being more self aware. The rewards of mentoring, he says, are worth the added reflection. "There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a faculty member — be it a man or woman — take medicine and the profession further than me." Some faculty members whose careers he helped nurture are in positions now, he says, "where I could turn to them as mentors."

Katherine Mangan writes about community colleges, completion efforts, and job training, as well as other topics in daily news. Follow her on Twitter @KatherineMangan, or email her at katherine.mangan@chronicle.com.

Don’t Rescue Women: Be a Reciprocal Mentor

By David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson

When women are mentored by menthey make more money, receive more promotions, and report greater satisfaction with their career trajectories. As importantly, cross-gender reciprocal mentorship relationships are also beneficial for men’s careers.


For both men and women to benefit, you’ll need to change the standard approach of a mentor being an all-knowing guru who dispenses knowledge. These typically hierarchical, one-way relationships frame men who mentor women as championsheroes, even rescuers. In this model, the mentor shares wisdom, throws down challenges, and when necessary, protects his protégé from all malignant forces in the organization. Enter the chivalrous knight-damsel in distress archetype. As Jennifer de Vries has astutely observed, painting male allies and mentors as heroic rescuers actually strengthens the gendered status quo, inadvertently reinforcing male positional power while framing women as ill-prepared for serious leadership roles.

So what’s a decent guy to do? Happily, there is a promising alternative to the traditional, hierarchical, unidirectional mentoring model. We call it reciprocal mentoring.

Cross-gender reciprocal mentorships are essentially partnerships in which men and women play complementary roles leading to career and personal development for both parties, and ultimately, greater gender equality in the workplace.

In her research on reciprocal mentorship, Belle Rose Ragins discovered that mentorships with the greatest life-long impact are more mutual. In these relationships, there is greater fluidity in expertise between members.

1. High-impact reciprocal mentorships deal with more than career advancement and compensation and include discussions about concerns that include: professional identity, work-family integration, and personal confidence.

2. The best mentoring relationships between men and women are based on:

  • Mutual listening and affirmation
  • Humility
  • Shared Power

3. The most effective mentoring relationships occur when they challenge each other and provide direct specific feedback. Too many men are averse to pushing their female mentees the way they push their male protégés. The best mentors don’t harbor stereotypes about women’s capabilities or resilience in the face of challenge. They confront their mentees when they avoid challenges or perform below potential.


Here are two examples from our research:

When Navy Lieutenant, Tabitha Strobel, one of the first women assigned to a U. S. Navy submarine, reported for duty, her male mentors were deliberate about pulling no punches. She got the same tough assignments and challenging watches as her male counterparts, all of it designed to immunize her for the operational challenges ahead.

It took Susan Chambers, Vice President at Walmart, some time to appreciate that her mentor’s constant challenges were a clear expression of care and commitment: “He set such high standards and expectations; he expected me to move so much faster and to achieve so much more than I ever had before. At the time, I felt it was unfair. But it’s only as I look back that I realize I wouldn’t be in my current role without it. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the difficulties I’ve been through if I had not had someone who cared and expected that much early in my career.”

Inclusive leaders are learning that women and men perform better, advance faster, and choose to stay in their organizations when they are reciprocal mentors to each other.

Originally posted on https://thewaywomenwork.com/2018/06/dont-rescue-women-be-a-reciprocal-mentor/

Men Learn How to Be ‘Allies,’ Without Fear, to Female Colleagues

Navigating the rules of office engagement in the #MeToo era, males seek guidance on mentoring women without crossing a line; avoiding ’man-terruptions and ’bro-propriations’

The Male Ally Summit in New York featured workshops, panel discussions and role-playing exercises. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

The Male Ally Summit in New York featured workshops, panel discussions and role-playing exercises. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

By John Simmons

Being a male ally in the era of #MeToo takes some practice.

Jeremy Sussman, a Google product manager, recently told a young woman sitting beside him, “I’ve noticed your work and you’re very good.”

The visibly uneasy Mr. Sussman, who is 49, continued to explain that he has mentored other women in the past. “And if you want to have that kind of conversation, I’m willing to do it,” he said.

The woman responded positively, but Aloke Desai, a 24-year-old software developer on Google’s Docs team, interrupted the conversation. “I don’t know,” Mr. Desai said. “I got a little date-y vibe from it.”

The exchange was part of a training exercise at last week’s Male Ally Summit, where 90 men, predominantly from the tech industry, gathered for a day of workshops, panel discussions and role-playing sessions at an event space in New York. The conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, was designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female co-workers but also want guidance in navigating the supercharged atmosphere some workplaces have become for male-female working relationships.

#MeToo has a lot of men watching their step—but not always in ways that are helpful to women. After a number of powerful men lost their jobs over sexual-misconduct allegations, many others—unsure of how to engage with women at work—are responding by distancing themselves from female colleagues. They are sidestepping one-on-one meetings, ducking out of after-work drinks and, in some cases, leaving women out of the day-to-day interactions that build professional relationships and further careers.

Nearly half of male managers said they were uncomfortable joining a woman in a common work activity, such as mentoring, working alone or socializing together, according to a recent survey of about 3,000 employed adults from LeanIn.Org, a nonprofit organization that aims to support women’s careers. And 55% of American men said the increased focus on sexual harassment and assault has made it harder for them to know how to interact with women at work, according to a new Pew Research Center Poll of more than 6,000 adults.

Men like the 90 gathered at the Male Ally Summit in New York say they are doubling down on their commitment to help women advance by coaching them and calling out biases. Most attendees said they found out about the event through friends or co-workers. Many said they were expensing the $250 admission fee for the event to their employers.

The conference’s keynote speakers were Brad Johnson and David Smith, co-authors of “Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women,” published by Routledge in 2016. They said instead of pulling away from female co-workers, men should actively pursue more equality at the office.

“What that means is more coffees, more dinners, more mentorship,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that men need to find a way to offer help without simply opening with “I’d like to be your mentor.” Any offer of mentorship should always be accompanied by a concrete observation about the potential mentee’s work performance, he said.

The two authors noted that women receive less mentoring when men wait for those relationships to form in an organic way and now some men are reticent to extend the offer.

“They truly are scared that they’re going to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, but some men are using this as an excuse,” said Mr. Smith.

Panel discussion as part of a conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female coworkers but also want guidance in navigating workplace dynamics. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

Panel discussion as part of a conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female coworkers but also want guidance in navigating workplace dynamics. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

Panel discussion as part of a conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female coworkers but also want guidance in navigating workplace dynamics. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

Kyle Fritz, a software development engineer at Audible, said he isn’t comfortable assuming the mantle of male ally just yet. He has been training as a manager with a team of four men and one woman at the Amazon Inc.-owned audio entertainment company for six months. In that time, he says he has been putting male allyship into practice, mostly by employing calculated strategies to involve women more.

Early on, Mr. Fritz noticed a pattern in his team’s unstructured brainstorming sessions: “The guys would get animated, snatching pens out of each other’s hands to write on the whiteboard,” he said. Meanwhile, the team’s only female, who has more experience than the men, would withdraw.

To give her more of a voice, Mr. Fritz ditched the whiteboard, which created a dynamic where men jockeyed for position, and now holds meetings around a table.

Jamy Barton, a senior director of program management at Audible—and one of about 20 women in attendance—said she simply wants colleagues who want the best people in the room to get the best results.

“I just want someone who has my back, listens to me communicate in my own way,” she said.

In meetings, male allies can help women guard against two common occurrences–“bro-propriations,” or instances where a man takes credit for restating an idea previously raised by a woman in the same meeting, and “man-terruptions,” which is just what it sounds like, said Karen Catlin, a former vice president of engineering at Adobe Systems Inc., who now helps technology firms find ways to attract and retain more women.

Her suggestion: Pipe up and say something like, “I see you agree with a point Ana made earlier in the meeting” or, “I’d like to hear Emma finish her thought.”

Daniel Wong, a 24-year-old consultant for Microsoft Corp. based in Phoenix, helps companies implement the software giant’s Azure cloud computing service. Lately, he said, he has been coaching a female co-worker on ways to establish credibility with clients who doubt her expertise.

“That kind of thing never happens to me,” Mr. Wong said.

Originally posted on https://www.wsj.com/articles/men-learn-how-to-be-allies-without-fear-to-female-colleagues-1522849814

Men Mentoring Women: Can It Change the System?

By Melissa Richardson

Like many women (and men), I believe that ‘the system’ itself needs to change before the female half of our population will be appropriately represented in the echelons of power.  (By the system, I mean the ingrained habits, behaviours and rewards in place in most work environments – they are the invisible ‘rules’ that have been made mostly by men because men have been in positions of power.)

Even as an advocate for the power of mentoring, I do not believe that mentoring women is magically going to fix ‘the system’. However, if men in positions of power mentor women, and do so in an appropriate and empowering fashion, then more women may rise to the top and feel confident in positions of power.

The more women comfortably inhabit the top ranks, the more likely the system will change. In addition, men who mentor women often experience a change in their understanding of what it is like to be a woman in their business or profession, and this in turn can influence how the rules continue to be made.

The key words there are “appropriate and empowering”.  We do not want to mentor women to behave just like men.

The goal instead must be to enable them to deal with power confidently, while still remaining women.

I recently finished reading Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.  The authors are two men with military and academic careers, who have personally witnessed some of the most male-dominated workplaces.

Although women were interviewed as part of the research for the book, it ultimately brings a very male perspective to the art of mentoring women.

Some of the 46 dos and don’ts listed in the book really resonated with me as important in truly empowering women through mentoring.  So if you are a man who is mentoring a woman and you don’t have time to read the whole book, here are my top eight from the list.

The first three relate to confronting feelings about and behaviour toward women that you may not even be aware are happening.


Know Thyself: Confront your Gender Biases

I agree with the authors on the importance of recognising those unconscious assumptions we make about each other every day.  Attitudes and expectations about women are so deep-seated that you may not even be conscious of them.  Work to recognise your own beliefs before the relationship begins.  (The book has a few good exercises you can try.)


Let her cry if she needs to cry

It is so important that tears are not seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence.  Women do tend to cry more than men, but as the authors put it, “Tears are not inconsistent with excellent work, including first-rate leadership.”


Make Sure She Gets Included

The book very well describes the phenomenon of women being excluded, while men are completely impervious to their isolation.  As a man mentoring a woman one of the most valuable contributions you can make to her career is simply ensuring that she is included in key meetings, has access to key information and does not allow herself to be taken for granted.

The next points relate to “male” behaviour that needs to be kept in check when mentoring women.


Be honest, direct and unconditionally accepting

Men are socially conditioned to believe it is ungentlemanly to hurt a woman or make her cry.  While noble, this attitude can be limiting to a female mentee.  In order to facilitate growth, a mentor must not pull punches with a mentee, regardless of gender.


Help her construct a rich constellation of career helpers

As the authors so beautifully put it, “for goodness sake, don’t do the guru thing”.  Men are encouraged to avoid protective and possessive behaviour with their female mentees.  Instead open doors to your networks and allow her to collect a range of career helpers.

These next two points are particularly relevant when mentoring a woman in a very male-dominated environment.


Don’t promote her before she’s ready

This advice seems counter-intuitive, but touches on a very real trap for many women.  In organisations with a dearth of women at the top, there can be pressure to push a mentee up the chain as quickly as possible.  The authors correctly identify this as “benign sabotage”.  Push too hard or too fast and you will set your mentee up for a fall.


Affirm that she belongs (over and over)

I wish it were otherwise, but the authors are correct in identifying that woman can suffer imposter syndrome in a male-centric environment.  Sometimes a woman’s biggest barrier to success is her own self-doubt.  Male mentors need to understand this phenomenon, be sensitive to the signs and look for every opportunity to confirm that she belongs at the top.


This final point is my personal favourite.


No cloning allowed!

This advice is relevant in almost any mentoring relationship.  After all, we mentor to enable mentees to grow and become empowered, not to create a bunch of Mini-Mes.

It is particularly important that men not try to mould their female mentees in their own image.  What is needed, both for women as individuals and for the goal of a gender-balanced workplace, is for women to develop as authentic leaders – not as male mimics.

7 Key Ways to Make Student Mentoring Matter

By Laura L. BehlingMaureen Vandermaas-PeelerPaul C. Miller and W. Brad Johnson

Although the practice of undergraduate research, scholarship and creative work has long been a fixture in American higher education, several developments within the past couple of years have drawn much-needed attention to the role of the undergraduate faculty mentor. The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index identified that only about two in 10 college students strongly agreed that they had a mentor who encouraged them in their goals. In 2015, Purdue University administrators announced their plans to make mentoring undergraduate students a point of emphasis in tenure reviews. And since then, scores of articles and studies have appeared about the role and importance of mentoring.

Our interest in those developments is in the way they are focusing attention and conversation on the crucial practice of mentoring undergraduate students. For three summers, we co-led a seminar at Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning on mentoring undergraduate research for faculty members and undergraduate research program directors from institutions in the United States and abroad. The work of experts in the field of mentoring, as well as George Kuh and the American Association of Colleges and Universities, has identified undergraduate research, scholarship and creative work as among 10 high-impact practices and provided the foundation for our seminar. Yet we’ve pushed one step farther. Our seminar participants have identified one key to this high-impact practice: the mentor who works closely with a student engaged in a research or creative project.

Guided by our own knowledge and experiences of mentoring that, in turn, have been enhanced by our seminar participants' studies of mentoring practices, we’ve learned a few things about what excellent mentoring is, and what it's not. And along the way, we have acquired a better idea of what institutions can do (and in some cases, what they shouldn't do) to enhance the well-mentored undergraduate experience.

Mentoring relies on quality relationships that endure over time. An intensive summer or multiyear mentored undergraduate experience, for example, supports students’ developing expertise in a field of study as well as their personal growth. And as a result, mentoring connotes a relationship that transcends mere assigned roles such as advising and teaching.

Yet good intentions and the proliferation of programs for undergraduate research do not guarantee that good-quality mentoring happens. Even when students, faculty members or administrators label these assigned relationships "mentorships," there is no guarantee that such supervision will reflect effective mentoring practice. Student involvement in undergraduate research or creative work alone offers no guarantee of good mentoring.

We instead suggest that colleges and universities better emphasize quality mentoring relationships and develop strategies and practices that assist faculty members and students alike in aspiring to and developing an excellent mentoring experience. Specifically, they should:

  1. Define the relationship. The farther we progressed in our seminar, the more complicated the meaning of mentoring became. Not every student-faculty assignment or interaction results in mentoring, even if it is labeled as such. An intentional focus on high-quality mentoring requires a critical definition of the developmental relationship we have in mind. Colleges and universities would be well served to articulate:
    1. what good mentoring is on their campuses (and how it differs from the other important roles a faculty member plays for students),
    2. how it is operationally defined,
    3. what the appropriate expectations are,
    4. what its best practices are, and
    5. what its distinct manifestations are among the disciplines.
  2. Train faculty members over time. Holding the occasional workshop for faculty on mentoring will not alone advance an institutional culture of high-quality mentoring. Rather, institutions should commit to a prolonged and robust system of mentor selection and training, one that begins with a faculty-faculty mentoring program, incorporates the importance of recognizing and engaging the variety of student developmental needs, and includes regular assessment of mentoring effectiveness with students.
  3. Provide adequate support. Undergraduate research offices, and the people who occupy them, need clear direction from campus constituencies about the role and value of mentoring at the institution. Likewise, those offices should have financial backing -- not only funds available to support students and faculty in undergraduate research experiences but also to support consistent programming and training about what makes a high-quality mentor.
  4. Make it a priority. Chief academic officers play a key role in making good mentoring a priority on campuses. They must allocate the resources and create the infrastructure to fully support undergraduate research offices. They also should support diverse pathways for faculty members to be involved in undergraduate research, following appropriate training and perhaps even supervised experience in the mentor role.
  5. Focus on competence. Perhaps most politically sensitive, we suggest colleges and universities pay more and better attention to competence of those in the mentoring role, and recognize that not every faculty member is a good mentor to undergraduate students at every stage in their career. It would be helpful to assist faculty members in thoughtfully working to balance the various expectations and aspirations of their own careers with associated activities related to high-quality mentoring of undergraduate students. One important element of such planning is that faculty members consider when they can (and when they cannot) invest in a high-quality mentoring relationship with an undergraduate student.
  6. Recognize and reward good mentoring. Colleges and universities need to consider how mentoring undergraduate students in research fits into the evaluative standards used for the promotion and tenure processes, and how other kinds of tangible supports can be offered to those who excel in such activity. Given the vital learning opportunity such experiences offer to students -- not to mention the considerable time and effort required of the faculty member -- we believe that faculty work in this high-impact practice should be recognized, rewarded and formalized in institutional practice and policy.
  7. Assess and reassess. Finally, if we are to hold to the belief that good-quality mentoring is inextricably linked with successful undergraduate research experiences, then we need to commit to an honest assessment and evaluation of these experiences that provides the faculty mentor with an opportunity for growth and development in this important role.

What we have come to know about the experience for students engaged in undergraduate research, scholarship and creative work is that it has the potential to facilitate deep and lasting high-impact learning. This potential can only be fully realized when colleges and universities commit to the belief that high-quality mentoring matters -- for students, faculty members and their institutions over all -- and they put practices and programs in place to promote, reinforce and celebrate it.

Originally posted by https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2017/10/27/advice-how-most-effectively-mentor-students-essay?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=38380dc454-DNU20171027&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-38380dc454-197487557&mc_cid=38380dc454&mc_eid=7db4db213d 

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Increasingly, new employees and junior members of any profession are encouraged—sometimes stridently—to “find a mentor!” Four decades of research reveals that the effects of mentorship can be profound and enduring; strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. Organizations that retain and promote top talent—both female and male—are more likely to thrive.

But the mentoring landscape is unequal. Evidence consistently shows that women face more barriers in securing mentorships than men, and when they do find a mentor, they may reap a narrower range of both career and psychological benefits. Athena Rising is a book for men about how to mentor women deliberately and effectively. It is a straightforward, no-nonsense manual for helping men of all institutions, organizations, and businesses to become excellent mentors to women.

Co-authors W. Brad Johnson, PhD, and David Smith, PhD, draw from extensive research and years of experience as experts in mentoring relationships and gender workplace issues. When a man mentors a woman, they explain, the relationship is often complicated by conventional gender roles and at times hostile external perceptions. Traditional notions of mentoring are often modeled on male-to-male relationships—the sort that begin on the golf course, involve a nearly exclusive focus on career achievement, and include more than a few slaps on the back over drinks after work. But women often report a desire for mentoring that integrates career and family aspects of life. Women want a mentor who not only “gets” this, but truly honors it.

Men need to fully appreciate just how crucial their support of promising junior women can be in helping them to persist, promote, and thrive in their vocations and organizations. As women succeed, lean in, and assume leading roles in any organization or work context, that culture will become more egalitarian, effective, and prone to retaining top talent.