How Performance Evaluations Hurt Gender Equality

"I was told I was too aggressive, I was too blunt, I was too direct, and that I sounded pompous when I offered advice on recruiting, despite the fact that I had been there twice and was very successful,” Lt. Col. Kate Germano told Public Radio International in 2015, shortly after she was removed from command. “In my career of nineteen years, what I found was that my counterparts would not be told those things.”

Her male counterparts.

Germano isn’t the first to point to a double standard in how we judge the behavior of leaders. When men take charge, we say that they’re strong and assertive. Women, on the other hand, are all too often labeled bossy or aggressive.

Our findings suggest that people from under-represented groups can be penalized for not looking like a leader, and are told implicitly that they are not leaders through the messaging of performance evaluations.

This type of bias appears in performance evaluations. These evaluations are part of the process to identify, develop, and promote talented individuals and are designed to be meritocratic. Ironically, they can exacerbate the very gender inequities they are striving to reduce—like the anemic number of women in leadership positions.

Our research offers evidence of this from a large field study at an institution—a military service academy—that prides itself on equal opportunity and meritocracy. Our findings suggest that people from under-represented groups can be penalized for not looking like a leader, and are told implicitly that they are not leaders through the messaging of performance evaluations.

What does it mean to “look like a leader”? Research on leadership finds that people generally look for agentic characteristics (e.g., instrumental, task-focused, goal-oriented) in a leader whereas communal characteristics (e.g., nurturing, relationship-focused, collaborative) are less valued. Agentic traitsare typically associated with men and masculinity and communal traits are associated with women and femininity. Because men are often assumed to be agentic and women to be communal, women don’t look like leaders.

The message inherent in these descriptors is clear: the women evaluated were incompetent and not qualified to be leaders.

As a result, women in leadership positions face an impossible situation. They will either receive feedback highlighting their lack of feminine, communal attributes (“She’s not compassionate or organized enough”), criticizing them for taking too much power (“She’s abrasive, overbearing”), or for lacking some key leadership qualification (“She’s inept, temperamental”). No matter their leadership style, they are deemed unfit.

We saw these trends firsthand in our research on peer evaluations from a military-service academy. We examined subjective peer-performance evaluations of over 4,000 leaders and 81,000 assignments of leadership attributes (chosen from a predetermined list of 89 attributes: 44 positive and 45 negative). Based on prior research, we expected that men would be assigned more positive attributes and women would receive more negative ones.

There were no gender differences on objective performance measures (e.g., grades, fitness scores, class standings), a finding consistent with previous research on military populations. Thus, those metrics wouldn’t explain gender differences in attributes assigned by peers.

As predicted, women received more negative leadership attributes (in greater overall quantity and variety) than men. Specifically, women were more likely to be described as inept, frivolous, gossipy, excitable, scattered, temperamental, panicky, and indecisive—in other words, a host of negative feminine stereotypes. The message inherent in these descriptors is clear: the women evaluated were incompetent and not qualified to be leaders.

If these traits are so valued, why aren’t women retained and advanced equivalently to or at higher rates than men?

Interestingly, women were only penalized for acting in an agentic—i.e., more masculine—way with one negative attribute: selfish. For women leaders in historically male-dominated professions, such as the military, we expected more penalties for women who dared to usurp power as leaders. (While we do not have the data to explain this result, we speculate either that these future officers have not yet developed a traditionally masculine leadership style or that they have received sufficient negative feedback and backlash about their agentic [i.e., masculine] leadership style they that responded by adopting a more traditionally feminine leadership style.)

We also found that men and women received similar numbers of positive attributes, although the attributes they received were qualitatively different. While men were more likely to be assigned attributes such as analytical, competent, and logical, women received compassionate, enthusiastic, and organized. Arguably, all of these leadership attributes are aspirational and valuable (and when asked, people indicate that the most important traits in a leader are communal traits, such as compassion).

But let’s not overlook the elephant in the performance-review room: If these traits are so valued, why aren’t women retained and advanced equivalently to or at higher rates than men? Men, after all, are less likely to receive these attributes. Why is this not reflected in the senior military leadership (general and flag officers) as well as the C-suite?

The problem, it turns out, likely starts earlier in the leadership pipeline. At the officer ranks, women in combat jobs are retained at approximately half the rate as men. When it comes to promoting a new senior officer, there are simply more male officers to choose from.

Outside of the military, there’s renewed momentum to increase diversity and inclusion, improve retention rates, and achieve more equitable recruiting, hiring, and promotion. It’s crucial that the individuals leading the charge not overlook the power of performance-evaluation language, which can reinforce stereotypes that undermine these objectives. As applied researchers working to improve the workplace for all organizations, we’ve distilled a few evidence-based suggestions to minimize bias in performance evaluations:

Include unconscious-bias education as part of manager (leader) development training. Raising awareness of how we can inadvertently bias language in performance evaluations may not eliminate biased language, but it will certainly encourage evaluators to stop and think before providing feedback. Simple online programs are available to assess gender “coding” in job advertisements and other employment documents. Formal evaluation programs that use standardized lists of words or phrases should also be evaluated for biased language.

Be specific and clear about evaluation criteria. When evaluators don’t have specific criteria and evidence to measure the performance of an employee, they’re more likely to rely on information from bias and stereotype, like personality traits. Performance data might include productivity metrics, and evaluation criteria could include the number of sales calls in a specific period of time. We think there’s a great example of how to set this up here.

Hold evaluators accountable. When evaluators think no one will check on their work, they’re more likely to be lazy (picking the easiest path) and to unconsciously bias evaluations. Hold evaluators accountable for their work, and eliminate anonymity. Before they even start to do the work of evaluating, educate them about how biases can show up in evaluations—and about the impact.

Avoid lone-wolf evaluators. Ask several people to evaluate individuals. This encourages a broader perspective on performance.

Be transparent in who is evaluating, what is being evaluated, how it’s being evaluated, and why it’s being evaluated. Evaluators may say they value a particular skill or trait, but then make employment decisions that don’t match up. Decision makers can’t be held accountable, or expect to be held accountable, if there’s no transparency in how those decisions are made.

More frequent evaluation is better. Consistent and frequent evaluation—although not necessarily formal—provide for longitudinal and continuous appraisals, which are more likely to show progress, reinforce professional identity, and affirm organizational fit.

Across industries, senior management is desperately trying to retain talented women. Too often, these women receive formal and informal messaging that they neither belong nor fit, and they are penalized for their authentic leadership style. There are high costs associated with employee turnover, and overwhelming evidence suggests that businesses’ bottom lines increase by as much as 15 percent with more gender-diverse leadership teams in senior management, the C-suite, and the boardroom. Reducing evaluation bias is a business imperative.

Originally posted on

My Colleague: The Mentor

By David Smith, Ph.D.

 Dr. Segal and Dr. David Smith

Dr. Segal and Dr. David Smith

One of my mentoring relationships really had an impact on my perspective about the importance of reciprocal mentoring. After almost 20 years as a Navy pilot, I found myself taking a leap of faith and finally following my passion for higher education. Having just been selected into a small community of military professors teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy, I first had to finish my graduate work to earn my doctorate degree in sociology at the University of Maryland. As it happened, my dissertation advisor became not only influential in my dissertation research, but a mentor for me to this day. We were never paired in a formal mentorship although the PhD candidate-advisor relationship could be viewed that way, but Dr. Mady Segal fundamentally changed the way I thought about mentoring relationships.

In our 12 years working together, I have never heard her use the “M” word (mentor), but I have heard her refer to me as a colleague many times. My military experience with mentoring relationships was very different to say the least. The hierarchical nature of the military and rank structure created more formal and power-laden relationships where a junior person could feel unable or even intimidated to reach out to someone more senior. But this was far different from my experience with Dr. Segal.


In our 12 years working together, I have never heard her use the “M” word (mentor), but I have heard her refer to me as a colleague many times.


From the beginning, I always felt like I was treated as an equal despite me being a student and  her being a foremost academic scholar with a list of publications, accolades and honors that we should all dream to achieve. She had a way of making me feel like she was guiding me along some path that she could see, but I did not. I always felt like she was preparing me to step into her shoes as this rising new professional, but without telling me what to do or assuming that I would follow exactly in her footsteps—collegial and the picture of what a good colleague looks like to me.

The path that she was guiding me along was the product of many hours of conversation. Really more like her asking a question and then listening to me fumble around trying to make sense of the jumble of ideas and thoughts I had. I’m still amazed she never dismissed me and said go find someone else to help you figure out your incoherence! Thoughtful, unassuming, and patient, she helped me hone my vision of where my research would go and who I would become as a scholar. I’d still be wandering around trying to figure it out if it wasn’t for her.


She had a way of making me feel like she was guiding me along some path that she could see, but I did not.


Throughout the last 12 years, she has unequivocally affirmed my abilities and talents as an academic. I can’t tell you how many times I questioned my ability to do the work required in the PhD program, publishing, presenting, and teaching. Not that I didn’t have years of experience doing similar things in the military, but this was not the military and I felt like I was often just one misstep away from someone figuring out that I didn’t belong. Dr. Segal has always provided that calm and reassuring voice of reason that gave me the confidence to perform in my new profession. This simple act of affirmation is so powerful and easy to take for granted. Truly something that we can do for each other as mentor and mentee as well.

Make no mistake, she had high expectations and standards. I often wonder how much I cost her in pens used to comment on my work. She challenged me in ways that I was not used to being challenged in the military, and especially as a senior officer. First, she challenged my thinking about diversity, privilege, the role of being an ally, and my language and behavior. There is no question that our conversations on these topics changed me in ways that ultimately defined my focus on research, scholarship, and teaching. She also challenged me to grow professionally outside my comfort zone in terms of academic skillsets. I can still remember the conversation we had about my frustration with not being able to fully answer my dissertation research questions through quantitative methods where I was comfortable. She told me that I would have to learn qualitative methods to accomplish what I was trying to do—so I learned qualitative methods that I have come to appreciate and made me a more versatile researcher. With Dr. Segal I can always count on direct feedback that is intended to help me grow and always delivered with an intent to make me a better researcher and scholar.


She challenged my thinking about diversity, privilege, the role of being an ally, and my language and behavior.


One of the hallmarks of an excellent reciprocal mentoring relationship is humility and sharing. I remember the first time as a student that Dr. Segal told me that a research finding of mine was interesting and novel. How could it be possible that she didn’t know everything and have all the answers? Later in our relationship after I was a more established researcher, I heard her tell countless academics how much she learned from me and many of her other mentees. And she often deflects questions to her mentees saying that we are the experts now who can better address their requests. Such humility and sharing of capital fundamentally characterizes the reciprocal nature of these mentoring relationships. She is an ally and advocate who never misses the opportunity to make introductions to connect me, highlight my work, and let influential people know how much she values my work. It’s always a bit awkward for me to hear that knowing that she has been the expert in these areas for decades.

As with all great mentoring relationships, they evolve—as has our relationship. I count myself fortunate to call her my friend and colleague. We don’t see each other as often anymore, but she checks in on me occasionally, as do I with her. We never outgrow the need for mentoring. And in case you’re wondering, I have never heard her call herself my mentor—I do that.

Originally posted on

Don’t Rescue Women: Be a Reciprocal Mentor

By David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson

When women are mentored by menthey make more money, receive more promotions, and report greater satisfaction with their career trajectories. As importantly, cross-gender reciprocal mentorship relationships are also beneficial for men’s careers.

For both men and women to benefit, you’ll need to change the standard approach of a mentor being an all-knowing guru who dispenses knowledge. These typically hierarchical, one-way relationships frame men who mentor women as championsheroes, even rescuers. In this model, the mentor shares wisdom, throws down challenges, and when necessary, protects his protégé from all malignant forces in the organization. Enter the chivalrous knight-damsel in distress archetype. As Jennifer de Vries has astutely observed, painting male allies and mentors as heroic rescuers actually strengthens the gendered status quo, inadvertently reinforcing male positional power while framing women as ill-prepared for serious leadership roles.

So what’s a decent guy to do? Happily, there is a promising alternative to the traditional, hierarchical, unidirectional mentoring model. We call it reciprocal mentoring.

Cross-gender reciprocal mentorships are essentially partnerships in which men and women play complementary roles leading to career and personal development for both parties, and ultimately, greater gender equality in the workplace.

In her research on reciprocal mentorship, Belle Rose Ragins discovered that mentorships with the greatest life-long impact are more mutual. In these relationships, there is greater fluidity in expertise between members.

1. High-impact reciprocal mentorships deal with more than career advancement and compensation and include discussions about concerns that include: professional identity, work-family integration, and personal confidence.

2. The best mentoring relationships between men and women are based on:

  • Mutual listening and affirmation
  • Humility
  • Shared Power

3. The most effective mentoring relationships occur when they challenge each other and provide direct specific feedback. Too many men are averse to pushing their female mentees the way they push their male protégés. The best mentors don’t harbor stereotypes about women’s capabilities or resilience in the face of challenge. They confront their mentees when they avoid challenges or perform below potential.

Here are two examples from our research:

When Navy Lieutenant, Tabitha Strobel, one of the first women assigned to a U. S. Navy submarine, reported for duty, her male mentors were deliberate about pulling no punches. She got the same tough assignments and challenging watches as her male counterparts, all of it designed to immunize her for the operational challenges ahead.

It took Susan Chambers, Vice President at Walmart, some time to appreciate that her mentor’s constant challenges were a clear expression of care and commitment: “He set such high standards and expectations; he expected me to move so much faster and to achieve so much more than I ever had before. At the time, I felt it was unfair. But it’s only as I look back that I realize I wouldn’t be in my current role without it. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the difficulties I’ve been through if I had not had someone who cared and expected that much early in my career.”

Inclusive leaders are learning that women and men perform better, advance faster, and choose to stay in their organizations when they are reciprocal mentors to each other.

Originally posted on

The Different Words We Use to Describe Male and Female Leaders


We like to think of ourselves as unbiased and objective in our employment decisions, but with two equal candidates, who are you going to promote? Someone who is described in their performance evaluations as analytical or someone who is described as compassionate? On the other end of the employment spectrum, if you’re downsizing and have to fire someone and the two people in jeopardy are very similar, who are you going to fire? Someone perceived as arrogant or someone perceived as inept? Leadership attributions in performance evaluations are powerful.

A unique and fascinating data set allowed us to explore the language used to describe individuals in subjective performance evaluations and provides evidence that, as we suspected, language in performance evaluations is applied differently to describe men and women. We analyzed a large-scale military dataset (over 4,000 participants and 81,000 evaluations) to examine objective and subjective performance measures that included a list of 89 positive and negative leadership attributes that were used to assess leader performance in a military leadership setting.

The military provides an interesting and significant setting to evaluate gender bias as it is a long-standing and traditionally male profession that has, over several decades, worked to eliminate formal gender segregation and discrimination. For performance evaluations specifically, the military has long been predicated on meritocratic ideals of fairness and justice providing equal opportunity regardless of demographics. The top-down enforcement of equal employment opportunity policies, hierarchical organization by military rank and not social status characteristics, and recent total gender integration in all occupations are hallmarks of meritocratic organizations where we might expect less gender bias in performance evaluations.

In our analysis we found no gender differences in objective measures (e.g., grades, fitness scores, class standing), which is consistent with prior research. However, the subjective evaluations provided a wealth of interesting findings.

For starters, in terms of sheer numbers of attributes, we found no gender difference in the number of positive attributes assigned, but women were assigned significantly more negative attributes.

We also looked at which specific attributes were more often assigned to men and to women. This gives us a better idea of how gendered language is employed in leader evaluations. The most commonly used positive term to describe men was analytical, while for women it was compassionate. At the other extreme, the most commonly used negative term to describe men was arrogant. For women, it was inept. We found statistically significant gender differences in how often these terms (and others) were used (relative to the other positive or negative terms available for selection) when describing men and women — even though men’s and women’s performances were the same by more objective measures.


So what? Both “analytical” and “compassionate” reflect positively on the individual being evaluated. However, could one characterization be more valuable from an organizational standpoint? The term analytical is task-oriented, speaking to an individual’s ability to reason, to interpret, to strategize, and lending support to the objectives or mission of the business. Compassion is relationship-oriented, contributing to a positive work environment and culture, but perhaps of less value to accomplishing the work at hand. When considering who to hire, who to promote, or who to compensate, which person— with which attribute—takes the prize?

Likewise, who is retained and who is fired? An arrogant employee may have a character flaw–and a negative impact on his work environment—but may still be able to accomplish the task or job. An inept person, in contrast, is clearly not qualified and presumably on her way out.

Our research on leadership attributes found significant differences in the assignment of 28 leadership attributes when applied to men and women. While men were more often assigned attributes such as analytical, competent, athletic and dependable, women were more often assigned compassionate, enthusiastic, energetic and organized. Consistent with our results, societal attitudes suggest that women leaders are described as more compassionate (the most assigned attribute overall) and organized than men leaders. In contrast, women were more often evaluated as inept, frivolous, gossip, excitable, scattered, temperamental, panicky, and indecisive, while men were more often evaluated as arrogant and irresponsible.

These are not just words — they can have real-life implications for employees and organizations. Language in performance evaluations can tell us what is valued and what is not in an organization. Employees also know what is valued and make choices and decisions about how well they fit in an organization and their potential to advance.

Our research is in line with other studies that have found differences in formal feedback for men and women. Some studies have shown that women are more likely to receive vague feedback that is not connected to objectives or business outcomes, which is a disadvantage when women are competing for job opportunities, promotions, and rewards, and in terms of women’s professional growth and identity. And women leaders often get conflicting feedback — told on the one hand that they’re too bossy or aggressive, but on the other that they should be more confident and assertive. A huge body of work has found that when women are collaborative and communal, they are not perceived as competent—but when they emphasize their competence, they’re seen as cold and unlikable, in a classic “double bind.”

One of the things that’s ironic about our findings is that many of the leadership traits that people say they most appreciate, want in a leader, or make a successful leader are the positive traits — such as compassion — that women leaders receive in their performance evaluations. So why isn’t this translating into more women in these roles? It’s one thing to describe an ideal leader, it’s another to describe a real person’s performance without being influenced by stereotypes about their gender, or stereotypes about what a leader should be.

Because of widely held societal beliefs about gender roles and leadership, when most people are asked to picture a leader, what they picture is a male leader.  Even when women and men behave in leaderly ways among peers — speaking up with new ideas, for example — it’s men who are seen as leaders by the group, not women. And as our study shows, even in this era of talent management and diversity and inclusion initiatives, our formal feedback mechanisms are still suffering from the same biases, sending subtle messages to women that they aren’t “real leaders”— men are.

Originally posted on

Two Dudes Writing About Women, With David Smith

In this episode, we hear from former Navy Commanding Officer, David Smith, a sociologist who co-authored Athena Rising, a book by men to men about mentoring women.

Dave dives into some of the challenges men face today mentoring women in the #MeToo environment, and highlights the benefits — to men — that show why men should double-down on interacting with their female colleagues – not pull away.

A couple books mentioned by David in this episode:

David Smith, PhD, is the co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women and Associate Professor of Sociology in the National Security Affairs Department at the United States Naval War College. A former Navy pilot, Dr. Smith led diverse organizations of women and men culminating in command of a squadron in combat and flew more than 3,000 hours over 19 years including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a sociologist trained in military sociology and social psychology, he focuses his research in gender, work, and family issues including dual career families, military families, women in the military, and retention of women. Dr. Smith is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters—many on the topic of gender and the workplace. Learn more about David at his website:

Also check out: Work, Pause, Thrive, by Lisen Stromberg, about non-linear work paths.

Originally posted on 

Men Learn How to Be ‘Allies,’ Without Fear, to Female Colleagues

Navigating the rules of office engagement in the #MeToo era, males seek guidance on mentoring women without crossing a line; avoiding ’man-terruptions and ’bro-propriations’

 The Male Ally Summit in New York featured workshops, panel discussions and role-playing exercises. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

The Male Ally Summit in New York featured workshops, panel discussions and role-playing exercises. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

By John Simmons

Being a male ally in the era of #MeToo takes some practice.

Jeremy Sussman, a Google product manager, recently told a young woman sitting beside him, “I’ve noticed your work and you’re very good.”

The visibly uneasy Mr. Sussman, who is 49, continued to explain that he has mentored other women in the past. “And if you want to have that kind of conversation, I’m willing to do it,” he said.

The woman responded positively, but Aloke Desai, a 24-year-old software developer on Google’s Docs team, interrupted the conversation. “I don’t know,” Mr. Desai said. “I got a little date-y vibe from it.”

The exchange was part of a training exercise at last week’s Male Ally Summit, where 90 men, predominantly from the tech industry, gathered for a day of workshops, panel discussions and role-playing sessions at an event space in New York. The conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, was designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female co-workers but also want guidance in navigating the supercharged atmosphere some workplaces have become for male-female working relationships.

#MeToo has a lot of men watching their step—but not always in ways that are helpful to women. After a number of powerful men lost their jobs over sexual-misconduct allegations, many others—unsure of how to engage with women at work—are responding by distancing themselves from female colleagues. They are sidestepping one-on-one meetings, ducking out of after-work drinks and, in some cases, leaving women out of the day-to-day interactions that build professional relationships and further careers.

Nearly half of male managers said they were uncomfortable joining a woman in a common work activity, such as mentoring, working alone or socializing together, according to a recent survey of about 3,000 employed adults from LeanIn.Org, a nonprofit organization that aims to support women’s careers. And 55% of American men said the increased focus on sexual harassment and assault has made it harder for them to know how to interact with women at work, according to a new Pew Research Center Poll of more than 6,000 adults.

Men like the 90 gathered at the Male Ally Summit in New York say they are doubling down on their commitment to help women advance by coaching them and calling out biases. Most attendees said they found out about the event through friends or co-workers. Many said they were expensing the $250 admission fee for the event to their employers.

The conference’s keynote speakers were Brad Johnson and David Smith, co-authors of “Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women,” published by Routledge in 2016. They said instead of pulling away from female co-workers, men should actively pursue more equality at the office.

“What that means is more coffees, more dinners, more mentorship,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that men need to find a way to offer help without simply opening with “I’d like to be your mentor.” Any offer of mentorship should always be accompanied by a concrete observation about the potential mentee’s work performance, he said.

The two authors noted that women receive less mentoring when men wait for those relationships to form in an organic way and now some men are reticent to extend the offer.

“They truly are scared that they’re going to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, but some men are using this as an excuse,” said Mr. Smith.

 Panel discussion as part of a conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female coworkers but also want guidance in navigating workplace dynamics. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

Panel discussion as part of a conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female coworkers but also want guidance in navigating workplace dynamics. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

Panel discussion as part of a conference, organized by the nonprofit women’s organization AnitaB.Org, designed to help men who want to serve as mentors and advocates for female coworkers but also want guidance in navigating workplace dynamics. PHOTO: BRIANA ELLEDGE

Kyle Fritz, a software development engineer at Audible, said he isn’t comfortable assuming the mantle of male ally just yet. He has been training as a manager with a team of four men and one woman at the Amazon Inc.-owned audio entertainment company for six months. In that time, he says he has been putting male allyship into practice, mostly by employing calculated strategies to involve women more.

Early on, Mr. Fritz noticed a pattern in his team’s unstructured brainstorming sessions: “The guys would get animated, snatching pens out of each other’s hands to write on the whiteboard,” he said. Meanwhile, the team’s only female, who has more experience than the men, would withdraw.

To give her more of a voice, Mr. Fritz ditched the whiteboard, which created a dynamic where men jockeyed for position, and now holds meetings around a table.

Jamy Barton, a senior director of program management at Audible—and one of about 20 women in attendance—said she simply wants colleagues who want the best people in the room to get the best results.

“I just want someone who has my back, listens to me communicate in my own way,” she said.

In meetings, male allies can help women guard against two common occurrences–“bro-propriations,” or instances where a man takes credit for restating an idea previously raised by a woman in the same meeting, and “man-terruptions,” which is just what it sounds like, said Karen Catlin, a former vice president of engineering at Adobe Systems Inc., who now helps technology firms find ways to attract and retain more women.

Her suggestion: Pipe up and say something like, “I see you agree with a point Ana made earlier in the meeting” or, “I’d like to hear Emma finish her thought.”

Daniel Wong, a 24-year-old consultant for Microsoft Corp. based in Phoenix, helps companies implement the software giant’s Azure cloud computing service. Lately, he said, he has been coaching a female co-worker on ways to establish credibility with clients who doubt her expertise.

“That kind of thing never happens to me,” Mr. Wong said.

Originally posted on

Men Mentoring Women: Can It Change the System?

By Melissa Richardson

Like many women (and men), I believe that ‘the system’ itself needs to change before the female half of our population will be appropriately represented in the echelons of power.  (By the system, I mean the ingrained habits, behaviours and rewards in place in most work environments – they are the invisible ‘rules’ that have been made mostly by men because men have been in positions of power.)

Even as an advocate for the power of mentoring, I do not believe that mentoring women is magically going to fix ‘the system’. However, if men in positions of power mentor women, and do so in an appropriate and empowering fashion, then more women may rise to the top and feel confident in positions of power.

The more women comfortably inhabit the top ranks, the more likely the system will change. In addition, men who mentor women often experience a change in their understanding of what it is like to be a woman in their business or profession, and this in turn can influence how the rules continue to be made.

The key words there are “appropriate and empowering”.  We do not want to mentor women to behave just like men.

The goal instead must be to enable them to deal with power confidently, while still remaining women.

I recently finished reading Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.  The authors are two men with military and academic careers, who have personally witnessed some of the most male-dominated workplaces.

Although women were interviewed as part of the research for the book, it ultimately brings a very male perspective to the art of mentoring women.

Some of the 46 dos and don’ts listed in the book really resonated with me as important in truly empowering women through mentoring.  So if you are a man who is mentoring a woman and you don’t have time to read the whole book, here are my top eight from the list.

The first three relate to confronting feelings about and behaviour toward women that you may not even be aware are happening.


Know Thyself: Confront your Gender Biases

I agree with the authors on the importance of recognising those unconscious assumptions we make about each other every day.  Attitudes and expectations about women are so deep-seated that you may not even be conscious of them.  Work to recognise your own beliefs before the relationship begins.  (The book has a few good exercises you can try.)


Let her cry if she needs to cry

It is so important that tears are not seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence.  Women do tend to cry more than men, but as the authors put it, “Tears are not inconsistent with excellent work, including first-rate leadership.”


Make Sure She Gets Included

The book very well describes the phenomenon of women being excluded, while men are completely impervious to their isolation.  As a man mentoring a woman one of the most valuable contributions you can make to her career is simply ensuring that she is included in key meetings, has access to key information and does not allow herself to be taken for granted.

The next points relate to “male” behaviour that needs to be kept in check when mentoring women.


Be honest, direct and unconditionally accepting

Men are socially conditioned to believe it is ungentlemanly to hurt a woman or make her cry.  While noble, this attitude can be limiting to a female mentee.  In order to facilitate growth, a mentor must not pull punches with a mentee, regardless of gender.


Help her construct a rich constellation of career helpers

As the authors so beautifully put it, “for goodness sake, don’t do the guru thing”.  Men are encouraged to avoid protective and possessive behaviour with their female mentees.  Instead open doors to your networks and allow her to collect a range of career helpers.

These next two points are particularly relevant when mentoring a woman in a very male-dominated environment.


Don’t promote her before she’s ready

This advice seems counter-intuitive, but touches on a very real trap for many women.  In organisations with a dearth of women at the top, there can be pressure to push a mentee up the chain as quickly as possible.  The authors correctly identify this as “benign sabotage”.  Push too hard or too fast and you will set your mentee up for a fall.


Affirm that she belongs (over and over)

I wish it were otherwise, but the authors are correct in identifying that woman can suffer imposter syndrome in a male-centric environment.  Sometimes a woman’s biggest barrier to success is her own self-doubt.  Male mentors need to understand this phenomenon, be sensitive to the signs and look for every opportunity to confirm that she belongs at the top.


This final point is my personal favourite.


No cloning allowed!

This advice is relevant in almost any mentoring relationship.  After all, we mentor to enable mentees to grow and become empowered, not to create a bunch of Mini-Mes.

It is particularly important that men not try to mould their female mentees in their own image.  What is needed, both for women as individuals and for the goal of a gender-balanced workplace, is for women to develop as authentic leaders – not as male mimics.

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Increasingly, new employees and junior members of any profession are encouraged—sometimes stridently—to “find a mentor!” Four decades of research reveals that the effects of mentorship can be profound and enduring; strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. Organizations that retain and promote top talent—both female and male—are more likely to thrive.

But the mentoring landscape is unequal. Evidence consistently shows that women face more barriers in securing mentorships than men, and when they do find a mentor, they may reap a narrower range of both career and psychological benefits. Athena Rising is a book for men about how to mentor women deliberately and effectively. It is a straightforward, no-nonsense manual for helping men of all institutions, organizations, and businesses to become excellent mentors to women.

Co-authors W. Brad Johnson, PhD, and David Smith, PhD, draw from extensive research and years of experience as experts in mentoring relationships and gender workplace issues. When a man mentors a woman, they explain, the relationship is often complicated by conventional gender roles and at times hostile external perceptions. Traditional notions of mentoring are often modeled on male-to-male relationships—the sort that begin on the golf course, involve a nearly exclusive focus on career achievement, and include more than a few slaps on the back over drinks after work. But women often report a desire for mentoring that integrates career and family aspects of life. Women want a mentor who not only “gets” this, but truly honors it.

Men need to fully appreciate just how crucial their support of promising junior women can be in helping them to persist, promote, and thrive in their vocations and organizations. As women succeed, lean in, and assume leading roles in any organization or work context, that culture will become more egalitarian, effective, and prone to retaining top talent.…men/dp/1629561517


Article Author: W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D.; and David Smith, Ph.D.

Whether at the boardroom table or the break room table, women are more likely to be overlooked or just plain ignored by men. Sometimes, they don’t even get a seat at the table. And when they do get a seat, their ideas and contributions are not always taken seriously. Thinking about her own early career experience at the executive table, Kathy Hannan, partner for diversity and corporate responsibility for KPMG, said, “I had been sitting around the key leadership table. At times, I would make a comment and it would get a tepid response, maybe some head nodding. Then, two or three people down the line, a male says exactly what I just said and everyone says, ‘Wow,’ and starts discussing it like it’s a new idea.” Several women interviewed for this book recounted stories in which their input was dismissed by male bosses; some felt so undervalued that they quit contributing their insights.

In the 21st century workplace, how do we make sense of these women’s experiences? When asked, men often fail to even recognize that these dismissive episodes are occurring. Our tendency as men is to unknowingly sell women at work short, largely as a by‑product of the way we have come to understand men’s and women’s roles in society. Despite the fact that there are almost twice as many women in the workforce today, by percentage, than there were in 1950, we still find persistent stereotypes about women’s roles at work and home. Automatic perceptions and assumptions that women are nurturing, warm, and communal may sound positive, yet they can be limiting and undermine women’s opportunities to compete and excel in the workplace. Our gendered perceptions make it too easy to overlook those everyday Athenas around us.

As you can surmise, our biased man perceptions about women create for them a prickly double bind. On one hand, we may perceive our female mentees as compassionate and caring nurturers, but in so doing we may be unable to envision them as the “take charge and move out” leaders we need for key projects and challenging missions. In a similar vein, men may avoid recommending women for assignments that are too challenging or “in the trenches” because we don’t see them as capable or aspiring to these tasks. Sometimes, our deeply engrained protective man scripts get triggered. When this happens, our efforts to “protect” a talented woman actually sabotage her opportunity to compete and prove herself. In our world, the U.S. military, these stereotypes reinforce the perception that women are better suited for staff or support roles than for operational “combatant” roles that lead to the higher echelons of power and leadership.

Unfortunately, the negative consequences of our man perceptions don’t end there. For instance, women who are directive and authoritative at work often get labeled “dragon ladies” and “iron bitches”; they are perceived to be coldhearted, abrasive, and bossy. As guys, we tend to steer clear of these women, often some of the most promising future leaders for our organizations and our nation. And if we find strong women noxious in some way, what does that say about our ability to see them as potential mentees? What are the chances we’ll seek them out, engage, and begin providing crucial career support? In part 2 of this guide, “Mentoring Women: A Manual for Men,” we’ll challenge you to not reinforce these unrealistic perceptions when women at work demonstrate confident, decisive, and industrious behavior.

Volumes of social psychology research reveal that men evaluate certain behaviors quite differently when exhibited by a man or a woman. If you think you judge John’s behavior the same as Jill’s—even in identical situations—you’re kidding yourself. For instance, as guys we might be comfortable with yelling at work, or give each other a pass when it happens—what dude doesn’t lose his temper on occasion? But what about a woman who yells? Well, she’s got to be overemotional or dangerous—return of the “PMSing dragon lady.” And if a woman cries, well . . . what’s new? But for a dude to cry or tear up when getting critical feedback . . . now, that’s awkward, just plain “unmanly.” Our perceptions about “appropriate” emotions create another double bind for women. If she doesn’t cry, she’s cold and emotionless. But if he is dry eyed we applaud him for controlling his emotions. Getting the picture? Women who aspire to rise through the ranks and assume leadership roles must confront persistent double binds and inconsistent standards for leadership potential.

Just as important for women at work is what men fail to perceive. The perception that women are nurturing and caring is largely based on our experience of seeing women in family roles as primary caregivers. In fact, women in general do perform more childcare and household chores than men. Evidence shows that working women are 60 percent more likely than men to have full-time working spouses. Why is this important? Because dual-career families have more challenges related to childcare and managing a household, and women in these families end up doing the lion’s share of the domestic work. And, of course, mothers are seen as less committed to their careers. This affects wages, promotions, and hiring, a de facto “motherhood penalty.” Effective male mentors must become alert to stereotypical perceptions of women in the workplace and then find strategies for mitigating their effects on the promising women they champion.

Excerpt from “Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women,” by W. Brad Johnson, Ph.D.; and David Smith, Ph.D. (reprinted with permission of Taylor & Francis Group).

Originally posted on

男 멘토-女 멘티, 부적절한 관계? 업무시간 공공장소서 멘토링하라 남성이 여성을 멘토링할때 최대의 걸림돌은 일을 대하는 여성 태도가 자신과 다르다는 편견이다

■ 美 해군사관학교 교수 두명의 이색주장 "여자들의 멘토, 남자가 맡아라" 

영화 '해리가 샐리를 만났을 때'에서 남자 주인공 해리는 여자 주인공 샐리에게 단정 지어 말한다. "남자와 여자는 친구가 될 수 없어." 이성에게 드는 감정이 남녀 간에 영원한 우정이 형성되는 것을 방해한다는 것이다. 작가 존 그레이는 저서 '화성에서 온 남자 금성에서 온 여자'에서 남자와 여자의 근본적인 사고방식은 다르다고 지적했다. 

이런 이유 때문일까. 일반적으로 학교에서나 직장에서나 사람들은 대개 동성 친구들과 더 잘 어울리고, 친하게 지낸다.아무래도 같은 성별끼리 서로의 마음을 더 잘 알고, 서로를 더 잘 이해해서일 것이다. 특히 사회생활을 시작하고 커리어를 쌓아가는 과정에서 많은 경우 사람들은 동성의 선배들을 멘토로 삼고 자문을 구한다. 

이런 가운데 직장에서 남자들이 여자들을 멘토링해야 한다는 이색적인 주장을 내놓은 교수들이 있다. 바로 브래드 존슨 미 해군사관학교 심리학과 교수와 데이비드 스미스 미 해군사관학교 사회학과 교수다. 그들은 함께 쓴 저서 '출세하는 여자들(원제 Athena Rising:How and Why Men Should Mentor Women)'에서 일반적으로 남자들이 여자들을 멘토링하면 해당 여자들의 커리어가 더 승승장구하며 본인의 커리어에 대해 더 큰 만족감을 갖게 된다고 주장했다. 그들의 주장도 특이하지만 이 주장을 내놓은 사람들이 모두 남성 위주 조직의 대명사인 사관학교에 근무한다는 점도 이색적이다. 

매일경제 비즈타임스팀은 두 교수와 이메일 인터뷰를 하며 이에 대해 더 자세히 알아봤다. 우선 여자가 남자를 멘토로 두면 더 잘 승진하고, 사내 다른 남자 동료들에게 더 인정받으며, 직장에 대한 충성심이 더 높아지는 이유를 물었다. 

이에 대해 존슨 교수는 "사내에 깔려 있는 근본적인 문제 중 하나는 여성 직원들이 남자 직원들보다 멘토십을 받지 못한다는 사실이다. 특히 남성으로 가득한 직장에서는 이런 현상이 더 심하다"고 말문을 열었다. 그는 이어 "여자들이 멘토십을 받으면 남자들과 같은 이득을 취할 수 있다"고 말했다. 남성들이 갖고 있는 네트워크, 사회적 자본(social capital) 등이 멘티인 여성들에게 공유돼서 이전에는 여성들에게 없었던 '혜택(benefit)'이 주어진다는 의미다. 

존슨 교수와 스미스 교수의 생각을 좀 더 구체적으로 들어봤다. 그들은 남자가 여자의 멘토가 돼야 하는 이유 몇 가지를 들었다. 

우선 대부분 조직에 퍼져 있는 문제는 상대적으로 낮은 직급의 여성 직원들을 살피고 그들에게 조언을 해줄 수 있는 시니어 직급의 여성 직원이 많지 않다는 점이다. 그렇지만 이보다 더 중요한 문제는 여성을 바라보는 인식에 있다. "한 여직원의 업무 성과가 좋지 않으면 이는 조직에 있는 모든 여성 직원에게 영향을 끼친다"고 스미스 교수는 주장했다. 사람들은 업무 성과가 낮은 여성 직원에 대한 인식을 다른 여자 직원들에게 적용시킨다는 말이다. "이 때문에 시니어 직급에 있는 여성들은 여자 후배가 자신의 능력을 보여주기 전까지 그를 멘토링하는 것을 꺼린다"고 스미스 교수는 말했다. 연구결과에 따르면 이는 특히 '차별'이 이미 조직문화에 녹아 있는 곳에선 더 심하다. 그러기에 "성과가 좋지 않은 여자들과 연결되는 것에 대한 두려움이 있고, 이 두려움 때문에 시니어 직급에 있는 여성들은 여자 후배들의 멘토가 되는 것을 매우 조심스러워 한다"고 스미스 교수는 설명했다. 

여자들이 다른 여성 직원들의 멘토가 되는 것을 꺼리는 이유는 여기서 멈추지 않는다. "남성 구성원이 많은 직장에서는 여자들에게 주어지는 기회가 많이 없다. 때문에 (이 기회를 잡으려고) 여성 직원들은 다른 여자들을 경쟁 상대로 느끼게 될 수 있다"고 스미스 교수는 제기했다. 여자들에게 주어진 기회가 많이 없으니 각자 자신의 '밥그릇'을 챙기려고 서로를 더 경쟁 상대로 느낄 수 있다는 말이다. 그렇지만 스미스 교수는 "멘토-멘티 관계는 협력 관계지, 경쟁 관계가 아니다"고 강조했다. 


남자 입장에선 여성 직원들의 멘토가 되는 것이 쉽지 않다고 느낄 수 있다. 일반적으로 여자들은 남자들보다 더 감정적이고 결국 육아 문제 때문에 일을 그만두는 경우가 많다고 생각하기 때문이다. 그렇다면 남성들이 본인 스스로 여성 직원들에게 멘토링을 해야겠다는 생각이 드는 계기는 무엇일까. 이에 대해 존슨 교수는 세 가지를 말했다. 동성의 멘티만 고집하지 않고 여성들을 멘티 삼는 것이 공정한 일이라는 것을 깨닫는 것이 첫 번째 이유다. 

존슨 교수에 따르면 남자들은 종종 본인의 인생에서 중요한 여자들(배우자·누나·여동생·딸)이 좋은 남성 멘토를 두길 바란다고 말한다. 이 때문에 본인이 여성 직원들의 멘토가 되려는 마음이 생기는 것이다. 둘째 이유는 다양한 산업에서 봐온 결과 여성 직원들을 성장시키고 이들을 임원급으로 만드는 것이 회사 수익에 더 좋기 때문이라는 것이다. 마지막으로 남성들이 여성 직원들의 멘토가 되는 이유는 남성 멘토 본인의 성공에 있다. 존슨 교수는 "여성들의 멘토가 되는 남성들은 조직에서 더 성공한다"고 단언했다. 여성 멘티를 통한 남성 멘토들의 네트워크가 더 확대되는 것이 남성 멘토들의 성공에 기여하는 것이다. 

―남성이 여성을 멘토해야 한다는 생각을 어떻게 하게 되었나. 

▶스미스 교수=나는 사회학자로 일과 가정생활, 리더들이 갖고 있는 성별(gender)에 대한 편견 등을 연구했다. 이러한 연구를 통해 여성들이 남성들과 동일한 멘토링을 받는 것에 대한 어려움을 겪는다는 점을 알게 됐다. 내 친구이자 임상심리사인 브래드 존슨과 이야기를 나누면서 직장에서 남성들이 성별을 가리지 않는 멘토링을 할 필요가 있다는 사실을 명확히 깨달았다. 또한 당시에 셰릴 샌드버그 페이스북 최고운영책임자의 책인 '린인(Lean In)' 바람이 거세게 불어닥치고 있었다. 직장에서 여성들이 남성과 동등하게 일을 하기 위해선 남자들의 행동 변화가 해결책의 일부가 된다는 샌드버그 최고운영책임자의 말이 널리 퍼지고 있었지만 막상 현실에서는 남자들에게 고충을 털어놓고 상담하는 여성 직원이 없었다. 이런 문제를 해결하기 위해 오랫동안 군대에서 일하고 사회과학적인 연구증거를 갖고 있는 두 명의 남자(존슨 교수, 스미스 교수)가 여자들을 위한 남자들의 멘토링에 대해서 이야기하는 것이 좋을 것이라 생각했다. 

―여성 직원들을 멘토하면서 남자들이 겪는 큰 어려움이 있다면. 

▶존슨 교수=여성이 근본적으로 남성과 다르다는 남자들의 인식이 생산적인 멘토링 관계 형성에 걸림돌이 된다. 이는 해군사관학교에서도 매일 볼 수 있는 현상이다. 해군 병사들을 이끌 준비를 하는 리더급 여성들을 (남성 군인들은) 다르게 생각하는 것이다. 그러나 우리는(존슨 교수와 스미스 교수) 이런 여성들을 '아테나'로 나타내고 싶었다. 그리스 신화에서 아테나는 지혜의 여신, 이성의 여신, 전쟁의 여신으로 알려져 있다. 이처럼 여성들이 직장에서 뛰어난 능력이 있다는 인식이 생긴다면 여자들이 너무 감정적이고, 리더가 되기엔 자질이 부족하고, 강인한 면이 부족하다는 생각을 남성들은 뛰어넘을 수 있을 것이다. 또한 여자는 '별종'이라는 생각 역시 버려야 한다. 여자 직원들을 멘토하는 남성들은 금세 알 수 있다. 여성들이 갖고 있는 일의 우선순위와 일을 대하는 태도가 남자들과 다르지 않다는 사실을 말이다. 

―일반적으로 여성들에겐 실질적인 도움만큼 감정적 지지도 중요하다. 남성 멘토가 이러한 감정적 지지를 잘 할 수 있을까. 

▶스미스 교수=남성과 여성의 네트워크의 차이점이 있기는 하다(저자들은 남성의 네트워크는 정보교환에 기반하고 여성들의 네트워크는 감정적 지지를 기반으로 한다고 저서에서 설명했다). 그렇지만 멘토링 관계는 정보 교환과 감정적 지지를 균형있게 맞춰 둘 다 제공한다. 

훌륭한 멘토는 멘티가 남자든, 여자든 상관없이 본인이 맡은 멘티의 말에 공감하고, 어떠한 일이 있어도 긍정적인 태도로 멘티를 대하고, 진심으로 그를 위해 행동한다. 공감능력이 뛰어난 멘토들은 멘티의 말을 매우 잘 들어주며, 멘티가 해당 회사가 자신에게 맞는 곳인지에 대한 의구심이 들 때 그렇다고 확신을 심어준다. 물론 상대적으로 남성 멘토보다 여성 멘토들이 감정적 지지를 더 잘 한다는 연구증거가 있기는 하다. 남성 멘티와 여성 멘티 둘 다에게 말이다. 그렇지만 남성 멘토와 여성 멘토들의 감정적 지지 능력이 엄청나게 차이가 나지는 않는다. 

―아무리 그래도 남자는 남자고, 여자는 여자다. 성별에서 오는 차이점 때문에 동성끼리의 멘토십이 더 효율적이라 생각하는 사람들이 많이 있을 것이다. 

▶존슨 교수=많은 조직에서 남성 상급자를 멘토로 두는 여자들이 그렇지 않은 여성들보다 연봉, 승진 등 커리어 성장면에서 이득을 더 많이 본다는 연구증거가 있다. 특히 남자들은 여자의 멘토는 오로지 같은 여성이 되어야 한다는 고정관념이 있다. 이런 생각에는 숨겨진 심리가 있다. 남성들의 두려움(anxiety)이다. 여자들에게 조언하면서 자신도 모르는 사이에 무심코 여자들의 기분을 상하게 한다거나 예기치 않게 멘티를 상대로 이성적인 감정이 생길 수도 있다는 두려움이다. 물론 이런 일이 일어날 수는 있다. 그렇지만 남성 멘토들이 이성적으로 사고함으로써 감정조절을 잘 하고 여성 멘티들을 위해 가장 좋은 조언을 할 수 있다고 생각한다. 

멘토―멘티 관계를 넘어서 이성적인 관계로 발전시키려 하는 것은 당연히 공과 사를 구분하지 못하는 행동이다. 남자들은 여성 멘티에게 이성적인 감정이 있는지 자각할 수 있을 것이다. 만약 이성적인 호감을 느끼고 공적인 멘토―멘티 관계에서 벗어나 '불순한' 관계로 진전될 수 있다 생각되면 여성 멘티에게 이에 대해 말하지 않고, 자신이 신뢰할 수 있는 다른 동료에게 이에 대해 털어놓고 함께 해결책을 찾아야 한다. 

―저서에서 남성들이 여성 멘티를 두는 데 걱정하는 부분 중 하나는 순순히 공적인 멘토―멘티 관계인데도 누군가 그들이 불순한 관계라 소문을 퍼뜨릴 수 있다는 점이라 말했다. 

▶존슨 교수=투명함과 일관성이 이러한 루머가 떠도는 것을 막아주는 핵심 요소다. 업무시간에 공공장소에서 멘토링을 하는 것이 멘토―멘티 관계의 투명성을 보여주는 가장 좋은 방법이다. 일관된 모습을 보이는 것 역시 중요하다. 예를 들어 어떤 남성 멘토들은 멘티가 남자건 여자건 아침이나 점심시간에만 그들을 만나며 이때도 공개적으로 멘토링 세션을 갖는다고 말한다. 

―사내에서 제공하는 공식 멘토링 프로그램만큼 비공식 멘토링 관계도 중요할 것이다. 짜인 관계가 아닌, 남자들이 일상에서 여성 직원들에게 다가가 그들의 고충을 들어주고 이에 대한 조언을 할 수 있는 방법은. 

▶스미스 교수=함께 일하는 여성 동료 중 재능 있는 사람들을 인지하는 것에서 시작된다. 능력 있는 여성들을 '포착'한 이후에는 능력 있는 남자들을 성장시키는 방법과 동일하게 여성들을 키워야 한다. 여성들과 멘토링 관계를 시작하는 남자들은 본인이 갖고 있는 여성 직원에 대한 편견을 확실히 인지해야 한다. 

이와 동시에 남성 멘토들은 여성 멘티들의 꿈, 목표, 야망을 이해하기 위해 충분한 시간을 들여 그들의 이야기를 들어줘야 한다. 그리고 중요한 회의 자리나 이벤트에 어떤 여성 직원들이 참석했는지, 빠졌는지 알아야 한다. 회의에서 빠진 여성들을 회의에 들어오게 만들고, 그들의 의견을 사람들이 듣도록 만들어야 한다. 수많은 경우 여자들이 낸 아이디어와 그들이 기여한 바는 묵살당하고 가치를 인정받지 못하고 있다. 남자들은 이러한 성별 차이를 바로잡아야 한다. 

―글로벌 최고경영자(CEO) 중 좋은 남성 멘토의 예를 든다면. 

▶존슨 교수=프랑스 식품기업 소덱소(Sodexo)의 최고경영자(CEO) 미셸 란델(Michel Landel)이 있다. 우리는 란델 CEO를 멘토로 둔 로히니 아난드(Rohini Anand) 소덱소 글로벌 최고다양성책임자(CDO·Chief Diversity Officer)를 인터뷰하며 그의 멘토링에 대해서 알 수 있었다. 란델 CEO는 그가 조직에서 어떻게 포지셔닝을 할지에 많은 고민을 하고 그가 (자신의 능력에) 맞는 자리로 갈 수 있도록 도왔다. 아난드 CDO에게 맞는 기회가 있으면 그를 추천하고, 그가 빨리 승진하도록 도운 것이다. 처음에 아난드 CDO는 북미 업무를 맡았는데, 이제는 글로벌 업무를 총괄한다. 아난드 CDO는 란델 CEO가 한 가장 중요한 멘토링이 그를 회사에서 어떻게 포지셔닝할지 고민하고 이를 실행한 것이라 말했다. 이는 그의 커리어 성공에 매우 중요한 부분이었다. 

―여성 직원을 어떻게 포지셔닝할 것인지 외에도 실질적으로 도움이 되는 또 다른 멘토링 방법이 있다면. 

▶존슨 교수=우리 연구조사 참여자 중 많은 여성이 말한 부분은 남성 멘토들이 사내에 숨은 '정치'나 정보를 알려주는 것이 도움이 된다는 점이다. 이러한 정보를 공유 받은 여성들은 계속해 조직에서 성공을 원하는 '야심가'로 일을 한다. 

―개인적으로 기억에 남는 멘토 경험이 있는가. 

▶스미스 교수=우선 나는 남자들이 '멘토'라는 단어를 사용하지 않을 것을 권장한다. 본인 스스로를 '멘토'라 칭하면 계급장을 달았다는 느낌이 들 수 있다. 이런 느낌은 상호 간 좋은 멘토링 관계를 형성하는 데 도움이 되지 않는다. 

개인적인 경험을 말하자면, 나는 미 해군에서 여성 최초로 미 해군 포병대에 투입될 수 있는 자격을 갖춘 사람을 멘토한 적이 있다. 남자들로만 구성된 조직에 융화하기 위한 그의 경험에 대해 자주 이야기를 나눴다. 새로운 업무를 맡아 그가 성장하는 모습을 지켜보는 것은 매우 뿌듯한 경험이었다. 한때는 자신이 옳은 결정을 내렸을까 확실해하지 않던 그가 이제는 자신감 있게 본인의 일에 대해 말한다. 그가 매우 자랑스럽다. 



미 해군사관학교에서 해양학을 공부한 데이비드 스미스 교수는 1987년 소위로 임관된 후 1년 뒤 해군 비행사로 지명됐다. 2006년 8월까지 해군에서 커리어를 쌓은 그는 2006년부터 2010년까지 메릴랜드대학교 칼리지파크 캠퍼스에서 사회학을 공부하며 박사학위를 취득했다. 이후 해군사관학교로 돌아와 사회학과 교수로서 학생들을 가르치고 있다. 

워싱턴주의 위트워스칼리지에서 심리학과를 전공한 브래드 존슨 교수는 베데스다 해군병원의 심리상담사 등의 경력을 쌓은 전 미 해군 의무행정병과 소령이다. 멘토십, 리더십, 직업윤리에 특히 관심이 많다. 데이비드 스미스 교수와 함께 집필한 '출세하는 여자들(원제 Athena Rising : How and Why Men Should Mentor Women)'이 작년 가을 출간되면서 큰 관심을 받았다. 

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