- More than 14% of our survey respondents said they do not have at least three people they can turn to in their professional life (either within or outside their company) for career advice and support.
- According to The Supergirl Dilemma, more than 12% of girls report that they do not know three adults to whom they could turn if they have a problem. The lack of support intensifies as girls get older. High school girls (20%) are almost twice as likely as middle school girls (12%) and five times more likely than elementary school girls (4%) to say they do not know three adults to go to if they have a problem.
Girls Inc. notes that “adult support and guidance are important parts of growing up and can influence girls’ quality of life and resilience.” As women, we know that a strong support network is also important for us both personally and professionally. Our survey respondents named many benefits of having a support system:
- Sounding board
- Different perspectives/objective views
- Someone to relate to
- Coping strategies
- Share success and disappointment
"Having professional friends and mentors who genuinely care about my development and advancement enables me to make more informed decisions and look at my professional environment more clearly. This core network also enables me a sounding board for discussing and preparing for important presentations and/or conversations."
– Professional Woman
"It's helpful to talk to people who have been there - gone out, gotten their dream job, negotiated the salary, etc. Reading up on career sites, articles, etc. can only teach you so much."
– Professional Woman
"It is very hard to figure out what one really wants to do in life. I want to take my time in finding out who I am."
– 11th Grade Girl, The Supergirl Dilemma
Remember not only to develop your network, but to also give back to a woman/girl who has not yet realized the importance of mentoring or mastered the art of networking.
- Have a memorable introduction prepared (“elevator speech”) that is clear and to the point.
- Join professional organizations/associations that interest you.
- Consider asking someone to commit to be your mentor for a shorter time frame (i.e. three months).
- Help others understand the importance of networking.
- Build relationships up (i.e. your boss); down (i.e. your direct reports); and across (i.e. your peers).
- Develop critical relationships. Review your list of critical contacts for any gaps to make sure you maximize relationships that are important for your effectiveness.
- Invite successful women to talk to girls about how they resist internalizing societal messages about what women can and should be.
- Share profiles of women, particularly ones that reveal how they overcame obstacles to achieve the success.
- Introduce girls to career options at your organization. Introduce girls to women leaders in your organization.