News, Technology

Mentorship is key to women’s success in tech

Anna Wall

Amie Haven, Journalist
@uxconnections

Robust networks of mentors help women to boost the economy and increase diversity in the tech industry. Above all, mentorship helps women succeed.

It turns out that getting your foot in the tech industry door is not necessarily the hardest part for women. Those women who’ve earned their jobs in tech are often stalling mid-career. Why is this? A lack of social and financial capital, few role models, and an absence of robust networks leave women without vital support and guidance to advance their careers. 

Having people around who want to see you succeed is important for maintaining confidence and resilience. Mentorships set within strong networks can provide access to knowledge, skills, contacts, and financial resources to support long, rewarding careers in tech. But the opportunities aren’t equal for women entrepreneurs.

According to 2018 data from MassChallenge, men entrepreneurs received investments on average of $2.1 million, whilst women founded or co-founded startups received investments averaging $935,000. Women receive less than half the investment of their male counterparts, despite evidence showing a 10% higher rate of cumulative revenue over a five-year period for women founded or co-founded startups. 

Denying women access to the same levels of investment doesn’t just hurt women, it impacts the global economy. Analysis by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows how the global GDP could be doubled if women were given equal access to investment. By levelling the playing field, global GDP could rise from $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion. 

Despite the challenges ahead, an increasing number of organisations are addressing the inequalities in tech and business through networks and mentorship schemes. Whether women are founding a startup or progressing in an established organisation, having professional support is crucial. Networks and mentorship schemes enable participants to overcome obstacles and access the knowledge, skills, contacts, and resources they need to succeed.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women runs the Mentoring Women in Business Programme, a global project that connects and supports female entrepreneurs across 90 developing and emerging countries. Mentors connect with their mentees online for 2 hours a month over the course of a year. The online platform means that women can connect with professionals from all over the world, securing a truly global network of contacts. According to the Programme, 80% of mentees gained access to new markets and 97% increased their business skills and confidence. 

Girls in Tech also offer a Mentorship Program, providing women university students and professionals with access to face-to-face and telephone support. The mentor-mentee relationship is focused on overcoming obstacles to advance professional careers in tech and entrepreneurship. Girls in Tech have chapters all over the world and like the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, there is a real focus on a global network of professional support.

However, the organisation Women in Tech suggest that one mentor may not be enough. Careers in tech can be complex, crossing a multitude of fields. Finding mentors that help women navigate all aspects of their careers is important, especially when aiming for top leadership positions. Women in Tech say that finding a mentor at the mid-career point can prevent women from faltering and support them to push for those big promotions that shatter the glass ceiling. 

But what’s in it for the mentors? It’s not just the mentees who benefit from the professional relationship. Mentors get the opportunity to share their knowledge, demonstrate their leadership skills, as well as improving soft skills like listening and increasing emotional intelligence. 

Women who support each other to succeed will not only improve the diversity of the tech industry, they can help double the global economy. A robust network of mentors increases women’s chances to compete equally with men in the world of tech and entrepreneurship.

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