A #METOO Backlash is Brewing

Why is it so hard to find Mentors?

Have you considered obtaining a Mentor? Since the establishment of the #METOO liberation movement, more men have opted for a more grossly misogynist response to mentoring women. In certain career fields dominated by men, this can threaten the advancement of women in leadership positions.

One survey arrived at some disturbing findings: A growing number of men reported being uncomfortable or afraid to work alone with a woman and senior men have become increasingly reluctant to mentor younger women or include them in networking opportunities such as business travels or client dinners.

LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey partnered to understand what men and women are feeling in the wake of the widespread media reports of sexual harassment. Here’s what they learned:

  • Almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.
  •  The number of male managers who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled from 5% to 16%. This means that 1 in 6 male managers may now hesitate to mentor a woman.
  • Senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man—and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.

Some can only factor one possible conclusion of this survey which is that men are afraid of being falsely accused and will not mentor women.

On the flip side, there is also a growing number of men who are afraid of asking a female to mentor them. Some men may think that it is embarrassing to ask for guidance from a woman in a senior leadership position for fear of being teased by their male counterparts or to appear inferior.

How can we fix this?

There needs to be a mutual understanding that Men and Women have different communication styles.

Let’s face it, men and women communicate differently. Psychology Today notes that while women speak around 250 words a minute on average, men clock in around half of that, at 125. This doesn’t mean that women and men need to change the way that they communicate but just have an understanding that, in most cases, men and women will perceive a conversation differently. Its good practice to conclude each discussion with simple open-ended questions just to confirm that everyone understands the next course of actions. Sometimes having them repeat the next steps as they understand it is a great way to hash out any misconceptions or misunderstandings in the forefront.

Men can become more astute at recognizing non-verbal signals.

Non-verbal signals abound in the workplace. Women tend to go silent when they are talked over, interrupted or criticized. For example, if in a meeting, a man and a woman are talking, and that woman suddenly gets quiet, the man may find themselves questioning their next move? He should pivot and start re-engaging her by asking questions and listening more. Or, if he’s in a meeting and his female colleague is interrupted, he can speak up, restate the point she was making and ask her to say more on the topic. Women also need to speak up and let their voices be heard and not be overpowered or undervalued.

Men and Women need to become more direct and specific while leaving all innuendoes at the door.

Be direct and straight forward to the point in the beginning by saying what you mean and not dance around a topic. Women sometimes have a fear of being called “out of their name” or being treated differently than their male counterparts if they speak up and are direct. In my opinion, men tend to hear better if the information is delivered without innuendoes, soft-peddling, and excessive non-verbal side-stepping.

Don’t be afraid to look for a Mentor or seek guidance outside of your organization.

Aside from the #METOO movement, many successful people can be afraid or intimidated to mentor their peers. This type of anxiety can originate from many different reasons and might make the mentoring sessions a bit one-sided and uncomfortable. If you are looking for a mentor, no matter where they are located, interview them and find out if they will have your best interests in mind. Remember a good mentor is someone that is genuinely interested in your professional growth and development.

-Lee Signore

Are you interested in a mentor? Book your free 30-minute consultation to see if I am a match for you here.






About Lee Signore

Fifteen years ago, Lee Signore joined the military as an Information System Analyst and honorably serving her country for eight years. During her tenure as a soldier she was able to learn and embrace the Army Values (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage). She went on to earn her Masters degree in Cyber Security from the University of Maryland University College and several security certifications. She also served as an Information Security Office for the Federal Government managing the information security program and preparing Federal facilities for audits.

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