In college, I was told that in order to be a successful female at her job, you needed a female mentor to follow, to teach you in the ways of being a successful female in a business. And I bought it. Here’s some research on the subject. I picked a job with the expectation that because it was a female-led business, I would get a better handle on how to function as a female in the business world. Now that I’ve worked under her and under a male, I can’t say that the logic of having a same-sex boss to aspire to is necessary.
Firstly, those females that we are supposed to be aspiring to more than likely trained under a man. My first lady boss was in the first graduating class with women. That means she studied under men only and was probably in a class dominated by males. She went on to create, invent and run multiple businesses as a woman without having female mentor. Why can’t we do that then?
Secondly, we are reinforcing gender differences if we demand that women need to emulate women. You can learn just as much from a male as a female. Yes, I agree that the relationship is different and the experience a man has in the workplace is and always will be different than a female. However, that doesn’t mean that what a male can teach you doesn’t amount to anything notable. I’d even go as far to argue that learning from a male gives you a competitive edge, as males historically dominate the workplace and still live above our glass ceiling.
I’m not going to generalize and say that my experience with both is the general whole for everyone, but what I’ve learned from my male mentor is far more valuable than what I learned from my female mentor. My female mentor chalks everything up to being a female and fighting against the stereotype that people place on you inherently if you have a vagina. My male mentor chalks everything up to being right and fighting for what you believe in because you know best in that situation.
Far more empowering.
Additionally, working under a female created a lot of the Queen Bee syndrome, where my movements below were seen as a combative and manipulative, when they really were just new ideas that I thought might work. I didn’t get any support and anything I suggested was so quickly squished, it almost felt like it was done purposefully to make me realize where my place was. Working with a man, my new ideas are welcomed and seen as me trying to challenge the status quo in an effort to better the system. I have full support and a booming voice behind me cheering me on.
More respect and more purpose.
I may be making feminists everywhere writher, but I’m just laying it all out in the table. Having a male back you up is still a good thing. Is it better than having a female back you up? No. It’s just an option that people don’t place any significance on, when in reality, it does serve as a benefit.