The importance of finding a female mentor
It’s tough being a woman at work.
Not for me, personally, but I’ve heard stories. Stories where male colleagues tried to push the boundaries of work relationships into the romance department.
We hear stories of coworkers getting together. We see it in shows like Parks and Rec or The Office. And some people can manage to make that work.
But that aside, I think what’s key to a woman’s professional success is having a female mentor. One who’s navigated all the obstacles in her career and life path and can provide invaluable advice on how to deal with people.
This year’s been one of my most valuable years in terms of professional development. I mentored under an elementary school teacher at Carolina Friends School. I’m currently working for the school board, under an assistant superintendent of an entire public school district.
And both of them are women. And their guidance is more than anything I could’ve asked for.
Because not only are they more emotionally intelligent and more empathetic, they’ve also shared their strategies for work-life balance.
My mentor teacher took extra time out of her day to send me course planning materials. And we had lunch together a few times, during which she’d share her experiences teaching in the public school system.
At my internship this summer, my supervisor reminds me of Leslie Knope. She’s goofy, organized (like.. lots and lots of binders), and energetic. She’s a force of nature in mobilizing people and getting them together to get things done. And now she’s one of my top role models.
Another woman who had a huge impact on my life was my violin teacher. She taught me things through violin lessons that I still carry with me today. Same goes to the violin instructor who mentored me as I traveled to China to teach music.
All these female mentorships have proven to be so, so helpful. Just seeing how women lead while balancing everything — social and cultural expectations, career/family, etc. And being able to open up and admit when they’ve done things wrong in the past and how they’ve grown and developed over the years.
Through their experiences, I’ve seen how women can choose to lead lives apart from the perceived norm. Who focus on career growth and blossom into inspirational leaders in the workplace.
These stories show how powerful women can be. And it’s not just in the emotional realm. It’s in the whole getting-people-to-get-shit-done realm.
Sometimes I think I lack the assertiveness to be an effective leader. But I’m working on it. I’m trying my best to fulfill leadership roles I’m not always the most accustomed to. So I observe women who lead. Who do so with grace and thoughtfulness, at a practiced ease with the people around them.
And I hope that by striving to grow and be better, I can serve as a role model for other girls in the future.