ARTICLES

Women and Work
Improving the personal effectiveness and career development of women

Michelle Scott
Bachelor Applied Science (Social Work)
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Counsellor and Psychotherapist

Perth, Western Ausralia

The world of work is becoming more complex and the demands on women seeking a career and family life can be considerable.

Many women are balancing the demands of their working life and family life and are looking for tools to do this in a healthy and effective way.

Mentoring is a positive and proactive opportunity to work confidentially with an experienced role model on a one to one basis, who is able to listen, provide guidance and help build self confidence for an employee in their career. Both men and women can benefit from mentoring. However, mentoring can be a powerful personal development tool to assist women in particular in:

  • Gaining confidence and self esteem
  • Meeting the challenges in the workplace
  • A greater understanding of both the work and external environment
  • Improved capacity to make decisions about work life balance
  • Planning their next career move strategically

For women, the benefits of having a mentor may be considerable. This is because some work environments are more stressful for women, do not promote work life balance and have particular structural barriers in place which prevent the advancement of women in the organisation.

In November 2014 Australia's Gender Equality Agency reported that the representation of women steadily declines when moving up the management levels of organisations with women comprising only 26.1% of key management personnel and 17.3% of chief executive positions.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia in June 2013 (in its report on Women and Leadership: Understanding the Gender Gap) identified insufficient career development opportunities, promotion pathways and mentoring as barriers to the promotion of women.

In some professions such as the Law, women have identified for themselves that the lack of a suitable mentor affects their career progression. The Law Council of Australia found in its 2013 National Attrition and Re-engagement Study (NARS) Report close to one in three women lawyers expressed dissatisfaction with accessibility to mentors to support their career development-compared to one in five men.

The relative lack of women lawyers in senior leadership positions was seen to contribute to a male-dominated culture in which it is difficult for women to progress. In 2013, only 28% of equity partners in the legal fraternity were women.

In response to the NARS Report the Law Council of Australia in 2014 identified as a priority, opportunities for women lawyers to formal and informal mentoring.

Mentoring programs have also been recommended to overcome barriers to women advancing to leadership positions in the Australian Public Sector (ANZSOG Institute for Governance July 2013).

The Benefits of Mentoring in the Work Place

For employers the benefits may include increased satisfaction in the workplace, a positive work environment, increased confidence, creativity and productivity of staff in undertaking the tasks required as well as promoting and maintaining quality staff.

While some organisations are seeking to establish a mentoring program with internal mentors there are considerable benefits to be gained from external mentors. Employees report that an external impartial mentor outside of the workplace who can provide a trusting confidential relationship can be very effective in maximising the benefits of a mentor.

Would you like to be mentored?

There are many reasons why an individual may want to be mentored.

  • Are you considering your next career move?
  • Do you want to make decisions to improve your work life balance?
  • Do you want to feel more confident in your role at work?
  • Are you looking for new ways to solve old problems?
  • Do you want to learn more practical strategies to navigate the complex work environment?
  • Are you looking for a better understanding of the work environment and your role in it?
  • Have you taken on a senior role and want guidance in your new role?

If you would like to learn more about mentoring or would like to be mentored please contact Michelle.

To contact Michelle:

Telephone: (08) 9200 5819
Email: michelle@michellescott.com.au

Cottesloe Counselling Centre
11 Brixton Street
Cottesloe Western Australia 6011    
www.cottesloecounselling.com.au        

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