Is It time to Disrupt Mentorship?

The question of whether mentorship models work for women and other equity seeking groups has unexpectedly preoccupied me for the last 10 years.   Sifting through my research for my book The Feminist Mentorship Gap , which is currently in progress, I am wondering whether there is a need to completely disrupt mentorship in all its various modes. Is it time to disrupt mentorship? Mentorship has been around a long, long time. The first use of the word and depiction of a “mentor” appears in Book II of Homer’s Odyssey . Before leaving for the Trojan War, Odysseus asks his friend Mentor to not simply look after Telemachus, his son, but to prepare him to lead.   Right now, you may be thinking, “that’s nice, but besides being a completely boring cocktail party factoid or possible Jeopardy question, so what?” Which is a totally reasonable response. But it does directly relate to mentorship today.  In addition to spawning the word mentorship, this passage framed the way mentorship and

What is the Feminist Mentorship Gap Project?

Like many women, I found traditional mentorship wasn't working for me. When I began working in PR/communications, there were no solid formal women's mentorship programs. The few mentorship programs that existed were heavily flawed. In one case, I landed in a mentor-mentee relationship that functioned more like a scene out of the movie Mean Girls . Yet, when I looked at how mentorship functioned among my male peers I saw a distinct difference. Mentorship worked for them. Their mentors sponsored and championed them. If they were caught in unproductive mentorship models, the male mentees just left. They didn't spend time fretting over breaking off a professional relationship that wasn't working. Over the years, I saw that mentorship was invaluable but women's mentorship was lacking something.  While I created my own mentorship network and personal mentorship program, many of my female peers were having difficulties doing this. Frankly, I thought this was an

Pardon Me Margaret for "Femming Up" on Man Spreading

Margaret Wente has it wrong.  Her Saturday, January 10, 2015 Globe and Mail column entitled: "Advice to younger women: Practice manning up" is an example of picking a trending topic to meet a deadline and appear current instead of examining the topic in an effort to understand a social concern.   However, "man spreading" is a social concern. Anyone who takes public transit or wants to sit on a public bench only to be denied by a "man spreader" understands this concern. Yes, "man spreading" is easily dismissed by the less self aware, but that's the social concern. People are increasingly more entitled and less self aware.   "Man spreading" is not new and not all men are "man spreaders". Yet, routinely some men spread their legs wide airing their testicles. They occupy a space feeling that they are entitled to occupy all the space without any regard for others.  I've witnessed "man spreaders" refu

Yes, Rex I am femsplaining.

This weekend over breakfast, my life partner said to me: "I am looking forward to your reaction to Rex Murphy's column on feminism." He knew it would make me furrow my brow. Now...I rarely make a deep furrow of my brow...with the bangs it goes unnoticed how rare I furrow. But I furrow now...deeply. Putting aside the obvious Baby Boomer white male privilege issues raised by Mr. Murphy's analysis, I am struck by the continual expectation of many men that feminists pick the "right" issues to focus on. Just so us "gals" know, appropriate issues are lecturing to women in developing countries on what is best for them, education of girls and women in developing nations, rape and sexual assault issues of women and girls in developing nations. Oh and feminism should never deviate from its expected representations of the angry, unstlyish and unsexual feminist. How dare women dress provocatively and profess a feminist view point. Hmmm is there a patt

Shoes for June...Dress for Corporate Succcess but Expect a Wage Gap

These three inch high heels black leather pumps are designed to go with any woman's corporate ladder needs. Often seen in HR cartoon drawings of what is appropriate office footwear. Or on covers of old 1980s and 1990s corporate "dress for success" manuals. Every woman embarking on a corporate career is expected to have a pair of these. However, versatile in taking you from business to after business hours affairs I am not sure they've fulfilled their 1980s and 1990s goal for the women pictured climbing the ladder of success. Especially when according to the Conference Board of Canada, "gap in income between men and women in Canada is 21 per cent." The Conference Board of Canada goes on to note, "women aged 25 to 29 employed on a full-time, full-year basis earned 85 cents for each dollar received by their male counterparts in 2005. Among women aged 50 to 54, the ratio amounted to just 72 cents." More women are going to university and coll