Women at the Top by Diane F. Halpern, Fanny M. Cheung

By Diane F. Halpern, Fanny M. Cheung

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In contemporary models of mentoring, family members may also be regarded as “natural” mentors and part of what Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy (2005) referred to as the “power mentoring” network. Especially for women and people of color in the US, there are greater barriers to obtaining traditional mentors within an organization’s boundary, compared to the barriers for white men. Family-member mentors can foster the future leaders’ self-esteem from an early age. In particular, the mothers offered these women leaders the ultimate in love and loyalty.

She always knew that they would go to college and that, as women, she and her sister had to be able to take care of themselves. As she knew she had to work to go to college, Helena Ashby wanted to find something that would allow the flexibility of going to college but which paid more than a standard clerical job. The job she landed at the sheriff’s department was purely by accident. She started looking for jobs that would pay her enough to take care of her family and Learning from Mothers, Mentors, and Others 31 pay for her education.

There is nothing in women’s roles (or nature) that would reduce their abilities in any of these areas. The need for recruiting more female talent at the top is most keenly felt in Europe where there is a drop in the talent pool with the low birth rate and a shortfall in the active workforce is forecasted. By tapping into the underutilized pool of skilled women, the projected shortfall will be drastically reduced. A McKinsey (2007) study analyzed the relationship between the number of women on the governing bodies and the performance of 101 listed companies across Europe, America, and Asia.

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