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Where are all of the women mentors?

While watching The Vanguard-Women in Media, I sit in awe soaking in the stories and work lives of great women in the workforce- Denis Albert, Dr. Ruth and Melissa Muse Gerstein-to name a few. They talk about their careers, the impact they have made and the stories that made their career’s interesting. Spectacular females that worked hard to prove themselves as leaders of their trade. They all talk about their courage and strength, and their hard work. Each said they had to work many hours. They have laughed, cried and gave their sweat and tears to make it to where they are today. All of this sounds familiar-like a biography of myself. And while I do not put myself in the same category as these tremendously successful women, I do have a success story that was built the same way—hard work, passion, many sleepless nights, lots of laughs, and lots of tears.

But, what struck me most was when they started talking about all of the great women mentors they have had in their lives. It made me sad, and jealous. Why is it that when I think back, all of my mentors were men? There were many women that were in positions to help me, to be my mentor. And, instead, they were mean, provided little guidance, pushed me down and definitely did not provide insight and guidance to be better. It almost feels like they were worried I would take their place. Maybe they felt there was not enough room at the top for more women. Maybe they were worried that the men would say, “There is only room for a couple of you.” Could that be? No-Men would absolutely not say that!

It was the men in my career that took me under their wing, made me strive for excellence, work smarter, harder and taught me to be a leader. The men, like David Scholes, Bob Horvath, and Tom Marianacci—all taught me that hard work pays off and that there was plenty of room for women at the table.

I am not saying that I don’t have a tremendous network of female peers. I did and still do! And I definitely would not be here without them. They were and continue to be my sound board; the ones that understand it is okay to be a bitch, and the ones that guide me every day. Should I name a few of them, Ann Marie Neal, Ann Marie Schiller, Ann Friedman-Ryan, Beth Gray—all great women, all great at what they do.

But, as I stated before, I am talking about the need for young ladies to have female role models in high positions to look up to, to show them how to work in a team; someone to be a trusted advisor and to guide the way to a successful career. Some to be supportive, not combative. We need women that tell us how to deal with clients, how to manage people, show us how to react in certain situations, help us deal in different situations—all of the things that make success—make us rise to the top.

So why is it important to change this? Female career advancement. Period! There are so few female leaders in our business-in most businesses. More often than not, I am walking into a room of men. I want to see that change! ‘What Women Want,’ conducted a survey and noted that women make up 46% of the advertising industry as whole, but 5% of executives are women. We need to change the game. Women need to learn how to advance. They need mentors to help them do it!

How do we do it? Help each other. Become mentors to the youth. Help them understand the importance of team work, leadership, and passion. Women are natural leaders. We lead our children and we need to take those same skills, and use them in the workplace. Women are overlooked and a great mentor can help them step forward and shine.

Personally, I love to mentor my staff. I love to be surrounded by people smarter than me. My goal, in 10 years, walk into a boardroom of my peers, and see great females represented. In the words of Madaleine Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women.” Don’t be one of them!

#BeBoldForChange

Robin Bender
Partner, Managing Director of New Business

2 Comments

  1. M

    You hit the nail right on the head! Your post has inspired me to start looking into who I can be mentoring.

  2. Pam Wingrove

    Great insight Robin. I agree 100%.

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