Hello SBAI Blog readers – it’s Naomi Ahsan again with the second post in my series about networking and job-hunting for young women. Feel free to comment with your insight and experiences, and make sure to check back tomorrow for more. You can visit my expository post to learn more about me and my motivation to write this series.
My task in this blog is to list some things young women like myself often do—and shouldn’t—on their track to career success.
- (Don’t) restrict yourself to female mentors.
Many of us intuitively look for female mentors, but there are two reasons I think solely depending on other women to help you is a bad idea.
One is that if you want to go somewhere that there aren’t a lot of women ahead of you to lead, you may find few women with your exact same interests or in the particular positions you desire. I studied neuroscience at a school known for excellent education in the STEM fields, and more and more of our graduates are women. But these fields are still male-dominated. There are efforts being made so that talented and motivated women don’t become lost to the STEM fields just for that reason, and my caution is not to be limited by the interests represented by the potential female mentors you can identify.
The other is that some female mentors encourage you to think of yourself in competition with other women. There are many successful women who are harder on their female juniors than the males, demanding more work and of higher standards. In the experience of a friend who interns at the UN, this creates a vicious cycle. Women may actually be deemed less competent as they take longer to complete tasks in the hopes that their additional time and attention will make the work more impressive. In workplace politics, these dynamics get manipulated.