Book Review
Rachana Bhide on behalf of The Corner of the Court Project

Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women
By W. Brad Johnson, PhD & David Smith, PhD

Imagine our delight when we found an entire book dedicated to both the psychological and the practical aspects of male-female mentorship. The authors, who are professors at the United States Naval Academy, start the book with 50 pages of research-based insights and views into both the complexities and the benefits of male-female mentorships. The majority of the book (100+ pages) is then a practical manual for men to use as they cultivate effective mentoring relationships.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

  • Forty-six tips (yes, practical, honest, implementable tips!) for men to approach, structure and carry out an effective male-female mentoring relationship
  • A judgment-free, candid tone from the two male authors. There is a lot to be said that two men wrote this book, for men; equally important is the validity of their research coming from the environments in which they have worked (Dr. Smith is an active duty U.S. Navy Captain) and reference in the book — they draw upon stories from women and men in virtually every industry
  • Advice and important situations to consider, rooted in psychological and sociological constructs; the book freely addresses mental scripts, biases and societal norms in a compelling and thoughtful manner

Because of its practical nature, Athena Rising is especially useful for launching male ally programs at your company or organization.

Our personal suggestion is — while it’s tempting to open the book and jump straight to the 46 tips — the first part of the book really sets an important stage for the overall topic of male-female mentoring relationships, which can otherwise prove tricky if not considered from all the angles the authors offer. The authors don’t shy away from discussing common fears, stereotypes (such as “warrior/knight” to “maiden in distress”) and other complexities; it’s important to have this foundation in preparation to implement the tips effectively.

With that, some of our favorite tips include:

  • “Understand your man scripts”
  • “Help her sharpen her leadership style (don’t change it)”
  • “Champion her assertiveness”
  • “Walk the razor’s edge between protection and empowerment”

From a female perspective on the book; we are constantly reading through submissions and publishing women’s success stories for The Corner of the Court — and Athena Rising taught us a lot about how and why the men who our ladies have chosen to feature, have been such great examples of male mentorship. Through the book’s candid tone, we also learned a lot about ourselves and our own mentoring needs. So ladies, we recommend you grab yourselves a copy as well.

Originally posted on