Candidate Advice, Mentorship | 3 min read

Can Mentorship Bridge the Gender Gap in Tech?

Written by Caitlin Edwards

Many companies in various industries are now offering a mentorship program to their employees, as the benefits not just for the mentee, but also the mentor and the organisation, are being realised. In fact, around 70% of Fortune 500 companies now offer some form of mentorship program.

Not Just a One-Way Relationship

Career advancement is perhaps the main benefit that comes to mind when people think about mentorships. Not only do mentors impart their knowledge and know-how of the industry, they can also provide mentees with access to a wider network of people. 

Previously this was considered a one-way relationship, with the mentee gaining more from the mentor than vice versa. However, a comparative study of 1,000 employees in the same business over a five-year period, found that both mentors and mentees were 20% more likely to have received an increase in their wage, as opposed to employees that did not take part in the mentorship program. In addition to this mentors were six times more likely to have gotten a promotion.

Growing Demand

As the demand for mentors grows; with 79% of Millennials regarding mentoring as essential for a successful career, research shows that matching this demand for mentors with a supply will eventually evolve into an organic process. Whilst the creation of a mentorship program within an organisation may require some work in the beginning, it will be worth it, as 89% of people who are mentored go on to become a mentor, creating a continuous cycle of opportunity for the mentors as well as the mentees. 

Mentoring for Women in Tech

In some cases, mentors can act as a role model for their mentees. In an industry such as the tech sector, where women are underrepresented, having a female role model to aspire to can be a source of confidence. In fact, many of the women interviewed for our #WomenInTechQA series, stress the importance of role models and mentorship in tech. 

That’s not to say however, that only women should mentor other women. A study by Harvard Business Review found that 46% of respondents stated men were the better mentors, in comparison to women. When asked for the reason behind this, 75% of these respondents said that men had a greater network. As mentioned previously, one of the main benefits of a mentor, is access to their network. 

A factor that encourages the mentorship of women by women, is the idea of shared experience. Having a mentor that understands to a great extent, the journey that you are on in your career, and the challenges you may face, can be an immense advantage in mentoring, because chances are they’ve been there themselves. Again, mentors are valuable to people because they impart their knowledge of the industry; who better to provide advice on how to achieve success in a male dominated industry, than a successful woman?

On the flip side of this argument however, is the concept that, whilst other women may empathise, in order for the gender gap in the tech industry to become non-existent men need to sympathise and become more aware of the barriers for women in tech. This can partly be achieved through mentorship. As a two-way relationship, the mentor also learns from the mentee; possibly advocating for women in tech to identify a male mentor in the industry. 

Why just have one mentor?

To receive all the benefits that a mentorship program can offer, it may be worthwhile to consider having multiple mentors and/or mentees. This approach is known as ‘mentors of the moment’ and recommends less formal interactions with mentors, as well as a mentorship culture throughout the organisation.

If you would like to be involved in our #WomenInTechQA series, get in touch!