Gender-based career ‘mentoring gap’ revealed in new research

There is a gender-based career ‘mentoring gap’ with more men than women saying they had a mentor. Men also report having had more mentors than women.

Ahead of National Mentoring Day on October 27, new research from card machine provider Paymentsense reveals how much UK workers would pay for the advice and guidance of their career mentors. According to the survey of 1,000 people those who have, or have had, a mentor would pay £195 a month on average for their support. This works out to over £75 billion of value across all working UK adults.

Approaching a third (30 per cent) of those surveyed said they had benefitted from the advice and guidance of a mentor. On average employees have had just over three mentors in their career (3.09), and the average length of time they benefitted from their support was just over 11 years (11.23).

The study also reveals a gender-based ‘mentoring gap’ too – a third (33 per cent) of men said they had a mentor now or in the past, compared with 28 per cent of women. Men also reported having had more mentors than women (3.7 on average, compared with 2.5) and would pay more for their guidance – £229 a month on average, compared with £156 for women.

Lucy Ward is creative brand director at Trouva, a marketplace showcasing distinctive products from hundreds of independent bricks and mortar boutiques. Lucy has two mentors – one male and one female and believes it’s increasingly important for women to find female mentors, especially in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Lucy says, ‘Sophie is general manager at the world’s leading independent digital rail platform, and a mother of two, but is always full of energy. She fills me with confidence that I can achieve that too.

‘Giorgio inspires me because of his calm influence and level headedness. He runs a company with a similar model to ours in the fashion arena so has walked the path I’m on before, which comes in very useful when seeking guidance.’

Lucy is also passionate about getting women involved in tech roles. She is part of ALT (Ambitious Ladies in Tech) a programme by LocalGlobe, and was asked by Retail Week magazine to join its “Be Inspired” campaign. As part of this, Lucy acts as ambassador to help inspire and promote the careers of successful female retail leaders.

She adds, ‘Having a female mentor allows young women to ask questions that are sometimes hard to discuss in male dominated environments, for example around balancing a demanding career with children and confronting the gender pay gap.’

The Paymentsense study also shows that regionally, Londoners valued their mentors’ advice at approaching £400 a month (£382.73), compared with just £65.69 for those in Manchester. Those in the capital were also more likely to have had a mentor – 40 per cent of London respondents, compared with a third (33 per cent) of those in Manchester. However, Londoners reported less time benefitting from their mentors than average, at just under nine years (8.81).

People from richer households were also more likely to have had a mentor. On average, almost half (47 per cent) of respondents with a household income of over 50K had benefitted from a mentor. In contrast, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents with a household income of up to 30K have never had a mentor.

Miles Waghorn is founder of Techsilver a company which aims to improve later lifestyle through technology. He first received mentoring and support from The Hive, Nottingham Trent University’s centre for enterprise and entrepreneurship. The Hive helped Miles establish his business and introduced him to his second, full-time mentor, Carole Harvey.

Miles explains, ‘Carole has been instrumental in my success as an entrepreneur. She combines her wealth of wisdom and experience from numerous roles (including commercial finance director at Boots and FD of an £80 million investment firm), with a unique approach where we work together to solve problems, instead of just being told what to do.

‘We first met at an Institute of Directors discussion event – I was on a panel as an inexperienced entrepreneur and she was there as an experienced one. Carole’s years of experience means I benefit from advice on both the day-to-day challenges of running a business, as well as longer-term strategic planning. She helped me reach important decisions and boosted my confidence as a young entrepreneur,’ adds Miles.

Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense says, ‘There’s no question that mentoring can really accelerate a career, especially in the early days. Our study revealed that their top career benefits were improved confidence, better stress management and increased likelihood of promotion. For those looking to go it alone and start their own business the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and get an experienced perspective can often make all the difference in that difficult first year.

‘However, it’s very concerning to see that there is an emerging gender mentoring gap in that men were more likely to have a mentor, as well have more of them than women – clearly this issue needs addressing as part of the wider workplace gender equality movement.’

Further reading on mentoring

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