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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.

IDEA Fitness Manager, Volume 15, Issue 4

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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 an...