“Women help women in the workplace in myriad ways,” proclaims Teresa Currier, chair of Saul Ewing LLC’s Women’s Development Initiative. “First, the mere presence of other professional women helps younger women making their way up, because a strong population of women silently stands for the proposition of inclusion in one of its many forms.”
It’s difficult to say if this thought reflects what’s really happening in the workplace. Of course, we hope it’s accurate, but a recent poll by LinkedIn found that 51 percent of women surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 said that they have not been mentored by female colleagues. Of the women questioned, 67 percent of those who aren’t mentoring others said the reason is because they haven’t been asked to mentor anyone.
While it’s hard not to get discouraged by these numbers, it’s important to remember a couple of things. First, each situation is circumstantial.
Brittany Sykes, senior account executive at Teszler PR, Inc., recalls when her supervisor, Barbara Teszler, helped her advance in her career. “After interning [for Teszler], I was offered a trial run for a position and ultimately became a publicist,” says Sykes. “[Teszler] left the company to start her own and because she loved the work I did for her, I followed her a few months later. We now work together, bouncing ideas off of each other every day and constantly bringing in new business.”
Aside from the numbers, the LinkedIn survey tells us something very insightful: Women aren’t asking to be mentored. “We’re all in this together,” Currier reminds us. “Women today know that, and act upon it.” If we look up to other women in the workplace, the study suggests we need to start asking them to help us in our own careers.