Although women unfortunately are a minority of founders that I see in various mentoring programs, this article is must reading for male mentors.
Men Can Improve How they Mentor Women. Here’s How. by David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson in the Harvard Business Review is a detailed look at the issues of cross-gender professional relationships, focused on mentoring. Though interestingly the HBR labels the article as “Coaching.”
How can male mentors learn to appreciate these tendencies? … men can be more effective mentors for women if they practice listening skills with the goal of showing empathy versus trying to quickly problem solve or “fix” things for her. In the process of listening, male mentors may find that they develop and appreciate enhanced interpersonal skills, access to larger networks, and insider knowledge of their organization that makes them more effective leaders.
The writers conclude that:
A healthy understanding of attraction and cross-gender relationships is vital in fostering an inclusive workplace where talent management is foundational. Self-aware and thoughtful male mentors who intentionally and conscientiously mentor both women and men will find that their mentees enjoy more promotions and higher salaries, more job satisfaction and commitment to the organization, and ultimately more self-worth and career eminence.