Article: How marketers are closing the mentoring gap

  • Anne-Lise Johnsen Robb
(Article originally published by Marketing Week)

New research shows women are less likely to have a mentor than men, so how are female – and male – marketers closing the mentoring gap?

Finding a mentor can prove challenging. Does it have to be someone in your organisation or sector? How do you approach them? What if they say no? Many questions can stand in the way of people finding the right mentor to help enhance their career.
In fact, new research from Paymentsense shows 33% of men surveyed have a mentor compared to 28% of women. Of those who do have mentors, men report having more 3.7 mentors on average compared to 2.5 for women.
These statistics do not surprise Lucy Ward, creative brand director at Trouva, the online ecommerce platform for independent retailers, and one of Marketing Week’s 100 Disruptive Brands.
“A lot of my female friends say to me ‘you’ve got all these mentors, how did you do it?’. I don’t think any of my male friends have ever asked me that. I think it’s because you have to be quite pushy to find these people,” she explains.
“It’s having that layer of skin where you can say it doesn’t matter if they don’t get back to me, they’re not rejecting me. And I think sometimes women are a bit fearful of pushing that hard and a little unsure of what they’re really meant to be asking.”
What a lot of people don’t necessarily realise is quite how much mentors get out of mentoring others, so it’s not an intrusive ask. - Anne-Lise Johnsen, Arsenal FC
Gavin Sheppard, marketing director at Smart Energy GB, believes that often informal networks of mentors are more male skewed due to the fact there are still more men in the upper echelons of marketing.
“I guess there is a broader problem, not specifically with mentoring, but with the number of women in top level marketing jobs and therefore the number of informal mentors that women have access to in those top-level networks,” Sheppard reflects.
Youth marketing product manager at Arsenal FC and Marketing Academy graduate, Anne-Lise Johnsen, believes that while there should be more mentors in general, it would be good to see more female mentors coming forward.
“I do genuinely believe that in general more people should become mentors and that includes females. It really is nice to meet someone who was in your position 20 years ago, it’s very inspirational,” she explains.
Johnsen recognises that in general one of biggest barriers to women finding a mentor is the fact there is no established or official mentoring network, meaning it can feel “cringy” to reach out and ask a stranger for their time. However, understanding that the benefits run both ways could break down some barriers.
“What a lot of people don’t necessarily realise is quite how much mentors get out of mentoring others, so it’s not an intrusive ask,” says Johnsen.
“A lot of leaders love to give back and be part of someone’s journey and that type of knowledge about what benefits the mentor gets is not really that common among most people.”

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