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The Best Mentors for Women: Male or Female?

When personal training was a new industry, many trainers did not have mentors because they were the pioneers. Now, times are different. Savvy personal trainers know that good mentors can boost their careers. (See “The Mentoring Pathway” on page 34 of the March 2003 IDEA Personal Trainer.)

Female personal trainers: 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 CareerWomen.com 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 CareerWomen.com 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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