Finding & Being a Mentor
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”
– Bob Proctor
It’s a trendy buzzword that everyone is talking about.
So you probably know that finding a mentor is important but it is absolutely necessary if you’re a woman. You read that right – ladies, you NEED a mentor (or two or three).
Here’s why you need a mentor:
Median earnings for women in Wisconsin were $37,700 compared to men’s median earnings of $48,300—a 78% earnings ratio.
Regionally, the wage gap ranges from 72 cents on the dollar (on average) for women in Fond du Lac County to 78 cents in Brown County (the same as the statewide gap).
In Northeast WI, 27% of businesses were women-owned, up from 24% in 2007, but still below the 31% statewide.
Statewide, women hold only 17% of seats on the boards of directors of Wisconsin’s largest public companies and 16% among private companies.*
Women hold 24% of elected offices in local government.
Women are least likely to be represented on Town Boards; and there are no women serving on 63% (44 of 77) of Town and 15% of Village Boards (4 of 27).
Please don’t be discouraged by the numbers – use them to motivate you!
Those stats tell us that change is coming and opportunities are there – we women just need to be prepared to take them. How the heck do we do that? That’s where mentors come in.
So how do you find a mentor?
- Figure out what you’re looking for. Do you need the inside scoop on your company to help navigate the ranks or get support for a project you’re pitching? Scope out the leaders in your company. Do you have a specific skill that you want to improve? If you want to get better at negotiating or public speaking, pay attention to those who do it well. Maybe you just need a general sounding board? Identifying what you need in a mentor will help you in your search. You can’t find what you don’t know you’re looking for.
- Take a look around. Think about the people in your life. The ones who encourage you, check in with you, genuinely care, always answer your calls or return your texts, ask you about your goals. You know, the people who cheer you on even when you doubt yourself. These are your people and while they may not fit the definition of what you think a mentor is, that’s exactly what they are.
- Reach out to women you admire. Are you are in awe of a woman in your company who has climbed the ranks and recently completed a big project? Have you recently attended a workshop and were really impressed with one of the speakers? Don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation – send a note or an email congratulating them on a recent promotion or thanking them for an awesome presentation. Seize the day and make that first move – you never know where it might lead. Great things never come from your comfort zone!
- Join an organization. What better way to meet new people and find changemakers to inspire you than looking to those who volunteer their time to worthy causes? There are tons of organizations in Fond du Lac that need volunteers, committee members and board members. Not only is volunteer work fulfilling, you’ll be helping the community, gaining resume-worthy experience AND meeting leaders who are moving the community forward. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.
- Be a mentor. Listen, be encouraging, give advice and invest time in others. Reach out to a woman just starting out her career and invite her for coffee. Find out where she’s coming from and where she wants to go. Learning about her will help to maximize her strengths and interests so you can find opportunities for development and learning. Connect her with others that might be able to help her on her journey. Share your experiences, what’s worked and what hasn’t. Mentorship is never a one way street – I promise you will learn, grow and get back way more than you put in.