In honor of National Mentoring Month, our new CEO Jen Faust shares how mentorship of girls and teens has lifelong impact on advancing equity. Jen invites you to connect with her on LinkedIn.
As a thirty-something when I took my first executive role, I was paid 74% of what the male candidate would be offered. I did not have a mentor. As we close out January’s National Mentoring Month, I reflect on what a difference a mentor could have made in my life then.
Missing the support of a trusted adviser and personal champion meant that when I spoke up and was told the organization could not afford that for me right now, I had exhausted what steps I thought I could take; I feared pushing further. I felt alone in my challenge.
Challenges such as these still exist for women and girls working their way into career fields and advancing into leadership positions. This awareness is amplified annually on the Equal Pay Day for Women, which falls on March 15 in 2022. The ‘Why” behind the day is based on the data that U.S. women earn 83 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. If you are a woman of color, it’s a larger gap: 55 cents on the dollar for Latinas. The wage penalty for motherhood reduces earnings still further: you lose pay of 5% per child versus earnings for non-mothers.
Coming back to my experience, pay was not the only inequity. I was expected to take the new executive management role and keep the former duties – so I was faced with doing two jobs for 3/4 of the salary and I was delivering. I did not have a mentor then, either, who could have helped me learn the skills to navigate my situation. It would have helped me enormously as I plotted out how to advance professionally and do it in the ‘right’ way, the way that will be best received, the way that would not seem too aggressive or too weak.
In my role now leading a girl-power organization like Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, I am dedicated to making sure other young women will have the skills to face inequality and inequity, if not be the leaders who vanquish it completely. While the path for women has more friction and requires more effort than the equivalent path for men, I am proud that we are doing something about that at Girls Inc. Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, we launched a new Girls Inc. Teen Mentorship program for youth in Santa Barbara. Perhaps you would like to share your lived experiences, your obstacles, and your education and career trajectory with a teen who is just beginning to define their own path. If so, please contact us.
If you want to make a difference for girls and teen young women, please support what we do. I also encourage you to incorporate these small actions into your daily routines to act as a mentor and help the girls and teens in your world play to their strengths, use their voices, and develop confidence and enthusiasm about their future potential:
- Be supportive.
- Foster decision-making skills and give teens an opportunity to practice those skills.
- Listen actively.
- Provide insights and exposure to diverse people, situations, educational opportunities, and career paths (particularly those that are non-traditional fields for women such as STEM careers).
- Have high expectations for them so they develop high expectations for themselves.
In my role now leading a girl-power organization like Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, I am dedicated to making sure other young women will have the skills to face inequality and inequity, if not be the leaders who vanquish it completely.