Print

Your Career >> Browse Articles >> Career Advancement

Your Career >> Browse Articles >> Find Your First Job

+2

Male vs. Female: Which Mentor is Best?

Male vs. Female: Which Mentor is Best?

Connie Glaser | DivineCaroline

When looking for a mentor, does gender matter? Some researchers believe it does and that your choice should depend on what you’re looking for in the relationship.

Female mentors appear to be better role models, but male mentors may be better at leading the way to the top of the corporate ladder. That’s the conclusion of a Pennsylvania State University study that involved 200 “mentees”—all graduate students, ranging in age from twenty to fifty-seven. Specifically, researchers surveyed 115 men and eighty-five women who rated 139 male and sixty-one female mentors from many industries on a variety of factors.

In essence, women excel at offering personal support, friendship, acceptance, counseling, and role modeling. With women guiding you, it’s often more about commitment and chemistry with the emphasis on personal growth and development, rather than about promotions.

By nature, female mentors also tend to be warmer and more approachable, as well as more willing to share pieces of themselves. Naturally, female mentors are better at offering advice on bridging the divide that often exists between men and women in the workplace. After all, they’ve been in the trenches; they know how to play the game.

With female mentors, there is also no danger of sexual harassment or sexual undercurrents in the relationship. Granted, as Joan Jeruchim and Pat Shapiro, co-authors of Women, Mentors, and Success, note, female mentors often “lack the power to link their protégés to important people or to sponsor them for key committees or projects.” Nevertheless, you can generally count on more bonding, nurturing, and confidence-building with a female mentor.

The male advantage? In terms of career development, which involves functions such as sponsorship, protection, providing challenging assignments, exposure, and visibility, both male and female protégés in the Penn State study said they received greater assistance from male mentors. Study authors John S. Sosik, PhD, and Veronica M. Godshalk, PhD, agree that much of this might be associated with stereotypes of men and women in the corporate world.

“Both men and women perceive men as possessing more and different forms of power than women,” Godshalk confirms. “Within traditional male-dominated organizations, both male and female protégés may shy away from female mentors when seeking career development functions leading to promotions.”

In fact, in their study, male mentors emerged especially effective at helping female protégés. “Among other things, male mentors can help female protégés overcome discriminating barriers in place at traditional organizations,” says Sosik. They may also be better positioned to make critical introductions for you.

In many surveys, however, a mentor’s gender is not an issue. More important is that the chemistry works and that you and your mentor work well together toward achieving the same goals.

Read More from Connie Glasser:
Women Are Changing How America Works
Unlearn Girly Behaviors & Become a Power Communicator


Excelle School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use Excelle's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.


* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Photo_user_blank_big
Ldam222 received the quiz result of "ESTJ", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
mlzrvc received the quiz result of "ISTJ", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
schucb received the quiz result of "ESTJ", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
dkk_florida received the quiz result of "ESFJ", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
lexcelle received the quiz result of "Seattle", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
Burntnana received the quiz result of "You Kind of Love your job", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
Burntnana received the quiz result of "Healthy Person", 9 months ago.
Photo_user_blank_big
Burntnana received the quiz result of "<b>You Just Need a Vacation</b>", 9 months ago.
Apples-635240_1280_max30
Margaritta commented on: "Margaret Jefferson", 9 months ago.