In honour of International Women’s Day Accenture released the results of a global study on attitudes towards women in work. One of the topics covered was mentoring a subject discussed a lot recently with two additional reports published by Catalyst and the Center for Work/Life policy. All of the studies confirmed the importance of mentors – and that almost equal numbers of men and women were benefiting from the use of a mentor – but what was interesting was how men and women use their mentors in different ways. Women talk about issues that are facing them in their current position whilst men use their sponsor to help them climb the career ladder and win promotion. The Accenture study illustrates that women are missing out on getting the critical career growth conversations, and whilst men are asking for promotion women are opting to take further education as a way to develop their career. I think this is a red herring – women often assume that more education will lead to the progression they are not making fast enough. It’s as if once they have that further degree, employers will have to take them more seriously – which they won’t necessarily. Look around – do the people who are climbing the ladder all have further degrees? If not, don’t assume another degree will get them to sit up and take notice. Both companies, and the women they hire, need to realise that executive women aren’t getting the support they need. Women who want to climb the career ladder need to proactively seek out a mentor who will help them move up and recognise their talents and achievements rather than encourage them into more education. You can find more articles on mentoring here.