Women are a huge force in the workforce and all eyes these days seem to be turned to millennial women. 68% of millennial women are in the workforce, women are more ambitious than ever before, and the number of women working has grown by approximately 17% from 1950 to 2000.
What's the issue?
Despite the strides that women have made and the ambitious nature of millennial women, 44% stated that they had a fear of failing or a lack of confidence which served as roadblocks to achieving their professional goals, according to a poll from Time Magazine and Real Simple. A study from Levo reported that 63% of millennial women felt uncomfortable negotiating and 55% did not want to come across as pushy. Clearly, millennial women still face cultural and social norms which continue to exert an enormous amount of influence on their lives and careers. Despite the enormous progress that women have made in the past century, clearly millennial women still find it difficult to assert themselves in the workplace without guidance and mentoring.
The importance of a mentor
When it comes to building confidence and seeking opportunities to further your career, it pays (literally) for millennial women to seek out a mentor. And in turn, we need more experienced women to offer their help to younger women.
I've heard countless stories of women who knew they were earning less than their male counterparts yet never once considered asking for a raise. A mentor can help you achieve your career goals by helping you develop your skills, provide valuable networking opportunities and offering insights developed over years of experience. For women in male dominated industries, Ellyn Shook, CHRO of Accenture advised that women should â€œseek a wide range of mentors, including men!â€Â in a recent Twitter chat.
Furthermore, a mentor will be able to say what needs to be said to you, which is something your friends, co-workers and boss may be uncomfortable doing. A mentor will provide constructive criticism and feedback that can help you learn and grow from your shortcomings. Your mentor will be the one pushing you to challenge yourself and refusing you to let you quit.
Where to find a mentor
This is one of the biggest dilemmas millennial women face: where do they find mentors and more importantly, can and how should they ask to be mentored? Clearly, the most logical prospects may be employed at your own company. The challenge there may be that you have to reach outside your own department and will be making a â€œcold callâ€Â, but it is worth trying, especially if you have been admiring someone specific, from afar. There are also numerous off-line communities and networking and Meet-Up groups for women in most major metropolitan areas.
In our digital age, it is smart to take advantage of online communities, if there are no immediate candidates in your work environment. Levo League's core feature is a mentoring platform where members can browse selections of mentors and directly ask them questions or join in on weekly video chats. Glassbreakers is a peer-mentorship platform for women for those of looking for advice and to network with those who agree to be â€œmatchedâ€Â with you. Inbound.org, an online hangout spot for marketers hopes to become a source for marketing professionals to find mentors, which is a great way to find industry specific contacts and mentors.
As a millennial woman, take advantage of the fact that you have grown up with social media and use it to network and find a mentor. You'd be hard-pressed to find an influential person in your field without a Twitter account. Making the initial point of contact can be as simple as tweeting a "Hello, I'm a huge fan of what you've done at your company!"
While women have come a long way, it is up to millennial women to continue striving for progress and equality in the workplace. Let us work to close the gender gap by empowering each other to seek out mentors to help us push past any issues we may face, whether they be culturally imposed or personal.
Alice Williams is a communications professional and freelance writer, covering topics related to business, tech and social media. She has an MA in Communication Studies with an emphasis in corporate and organizational communication. In her spare time, she blogs over at Honestly Fitness where she shares advice on wellness and how to live a healthy lifestyle despite the pressures of everyday life.
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