Have a Mentor Based on Values, not Gender

93% of tech leaders have a mentor. Only 20% of women had other women as mentors

Need for a Mentor

During my interview with the women tech leaders, a consistent theme I heard was that it was important to have a mentor. A mentor helps as a sounding board especially when you are faced with choices and you want to think through each of the choices with someone who is there just to encourage you with your career goals. A mentor is also someone who will hold you accountable to your own goals. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on track and continued engagement with the mentor allows you to stay accountable.

Successful Women Tech Leaders Often Choose Men as Mentors

When I conducted a survey with tech leaders, 93% of them said they had a mentor. Whereas 50% of the men said they had other men as mentors, only 20% of the women had other women as mentors. Clearly, these women tech leaders prioritized having a mentor no matter their gender. Camille Fetter said — “growing up I looked to my grandfather as my role model. I never thought of myself having to emulate another woman. I think that shaped my career”.

Role Models During Childhood

During childhood, children look to role models to form their goals. Whereas it is easier for girls to see themselves growing up into women they admire, unfortunately, there are just not enough women role models, especially not in technology. The only way to break this cycle is by pointing girls to successful men, and have them look up to role models based on values than gender.

A question to ask is why should women have to compromise on their mentors? If a woman needs another woman’s advice, like how to handle motherhood and her career, she shouldn’t have to deal those problems on her own. This is why successful women, who’ve already made it, need to actively make an effort to be mentors for other aspiring women. This is the best way we can break the cycle of women getting discouraged because they don’t see any other women who have achieved their tech dream.

Successful Women Tech Leaders Should Proactively Reach out to be Mentors

As you pursue a career in tech, make it a priority to have a mentor. Know that looking only for women mentors may make your search longer. Choose a mentor based on your values, rather than gender. In this process, if you find another woman that’s great. If not, don’t NOT have a mentor, find a man.

Finally, women tech leaders should proactively reach out to other women who are pursuing a career in tech. This will actively inspire more girls and women to join the tech industry.