By Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
I talk often about the importance of mentoring younger women. After I spoke with Dr. Janet Rose about her Seven Secrets of Parenting Girls, I realized these ideas applied equally well to working with other women in the workplace and community.
Use these guidelines, adapted from Dr. Rose’s advice, to make your mentoring efforts more effective.
- Build their brand. Instead of commenting on appearance, noticing and call attention to those qualities like strength, critical thinking, and independence. Use those words to describe her like: smart, mature, leader, persistent, hard-worker, independent, creative, talented, skilled, outgoing, brave, confident, tough, strong, fair, deep-thinker, outspoken, athletic, mathematical, scientific.
- Promote independence. Encourage and support problem solving, exploration, and stretching out of her comfort zone. Reject stereotypical limitations to “female” roles. Instead of saying: “Let me do that for you,” ?say “I bet you can do that for yourself. ?I will watch you and coach you if you need it.”
- Encourage thinking and speaking up. Don’t accept their silence: question, praise, probe, clarify, and correct the women around you. Encourage them to ask questions, refine their thinking, share their opinions and achieve more. Discuss why something worked or didn’t work. Teach her that she is valued for her good thinking skills.
- Stimulate learning. Support and approve of her learning new ideas and skills, especially those beyond her current role. Math, science, technology, and complex management strategies are all well-within the female brain’s scope, so encourage her to read and explore. Discuss ideas and challenge her to explain what she has learned.
- Support education. Expect them to take pride in their learning, to do their preparation, to work hard to advance, and to value educators and education!
- Widen career options. Point out women in management positions, leadership roles, and non-traditional jobs. Talk about what women CAN do when you see males in gender stereotypical roles in the professions and in business. Say, “How would you like to be CEO?” and let her know this is an option. Brainstorm the steps needed to arrive at that goal.
- Promote awareness. Point out gender-biased messages when you encounter them in the workplace and in society. Analyze their lack of validity and discuss ways around the implied limitations. Validate her feelings in the face of these messages.
If you do all of these things in mentoring other women, you’ll be mentoring yourself as well. Set an example of all these strength-building activities and you’ll find yourself flying high and fast toward your goals.
Listen to my Conversation with Janet Rose here < http://womenspeakradio.com/?p=316>
Read more of Dr. Rose’s wisdom here < http://blog.parentinggirls.com/>