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Mentors for Women: Which Gender?

by Sandy Todd Webster on Oct 01, 2003

When fitness managers first began ascending the corporate ladder two decades ago, many did not have mentors because they were the pioneers. Now, times are different. Smart managers know that good mentors can boost not only their careers, but also model solid business skills for junior staff moving into the management ranks. (See "Mentoring: A Fitness Manager's Best Friend," the cover story of the May 2003 IDEA Fitness Manager.)

Female fitness managers and program directors: Have you found that mentors have helped you? Other business women have. A new survey looked at the role that mentors play specifically in a woman’s career success. The “Importance of Mentoring in the Workplace,” a QuickPoll, reveals that the majority of women (62%) have a formal or informal mentor—someone who has influenced their personal and professional development and contributed to their career success.

According to the poll results, 64 percent of women reported that their most important mentors have been male while 36 percent reported that women mentors have been the most influential in their careers.

The QuickPoll reveals that male mentors help women they mentor by providing general business training, leadership opportunities, coaching feedback and advice as well as networking and advancement opportunities. Women also noted that they learn negotiating skills from their male mentors. By contrast, if a mentor is a woman, the most essential contributions include informal fellowship, guidance within the company, motivation and encouragement. Women mentors also share strategies for women’s career success, work/life balance, job sharing, maternity leave, advice on overcoming gender bias in the workplace and even style advice that male mentors may not be as able to effectively address.

JillXan Donnelly of says that the results show distinct differences in mentoring benefits and further highlight the need to take advantage of several mentors—both male and female—throughout a woman’s careers, who can help provide guidance, support and advice at every stage of professional development.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.