People often point to differences between men and women in work outcomes as an informally institutional skew in favor of men. Because of this, it’s worth it for us to look into how gender interacts with protege-mentor relationships, and what we can do to make sure 50% of the population isn’t missing out on more effective learning an support.
It’s better to have male mentors?
In a study by Ragins & Cotton (1999), 352 female and 257 male proteges were asked extensively about their careers and every mentoring relationship they had over the previous ten years in order to see the difference between types of mentoring relationships based on gender. Through the study, they found that men were significantly more likely to have formal mentors than women. This means that men were more likely to be assigned mentors in their organization or take a training program that included mentorship. This could point toward organizational discrimination, but let’s hold off on judgment. Ragins & Cotton (1999) also found that having a history of predominantly male mentors was associated with higher pay, and female proteges with a history of male mentors received more promotions than their male counterparts. However, female proteges with a history of male mentors also received less compensation.
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Ragins, B. R., & Cotton, J. L. (1999). Mentor functions and outcomes: A comparison of men and women in formal and informal mentoring relationships. Journal of Applied Psychology,84(4), 529-550. doi:10.1037//0021-9010.84.4.529
Scandura, T. A., & Williams, E. A. (2001). An Investigation of the Moderating Effects of Gender on the Relationships between Mentorship Initiation and Protégé Perceptions of Mentoring Functions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59(3), 342-363. doi:10.1006/jvbe.2001.1809