Experienced guidance is a key tool for career advancement in any field.
When it comes to achieving career goals, it’s easier to realize individual success with the guidance of a helping hand.
Even as more women enter the tech industry, mentorship is still lacking — according to a recent survey, more than half of women report never having a mentor, even though 67 percent rated it as highly important to career advancement. For those who have been able to receive mentorship, however, it has proven to be an invaluable resource for professional development.
During the most recent Women in Autonomy digital event, members cited mentorship as a way to build collective knowledge that is especially valuable in emerging fields such as autonomous driving. It also provides a space to regularly discuss career goals and common professional challenges.
According to workplace research institute, Coqual, these benefits ring true for many women in STEM fields. In a 2019 survey, the organization found that women who reported having a sponsor in the workplace were 37 percent more likely to ask for a raise and 119 percent more likely to have their ideas developed.
These relationships don’t just have a positive impact on those directly involved. Research from leadership consulting firm Development Dimensions International shows that companies as a whole benefit from strong mentorship programs, with improved internal communication and employee retention.
The Missing Link
Despite the visible benefits, a gap in consistent female mentorship throughout the automotive and tech industries persists.
One cause is the lack of supply of potential mentors. Just 8 percent of executives in the top 20 automotive companies in the Fortune 500 are women, while female workers account for about 18 percent of both mid-level and senior-level manager positions.
For those looking to start their own business, finding female founders to emulate can be just as difficult. Among the thousands of publicly traded companies, just 20 are founded and run by women.
To be sure, male mentors can be just as valuable, and mentorship is an investment on both sides of the relationship that provides value for both professional and personal development. However, having female role models who have surmounted similar obstacles, from executives to founders, helps promote the “if you can see it, you can be it” mentality among women early in their careers.
Additional challenges specific to women in the automotive and automotive tech industries include lack of time and flexible schedule for additional responsibilities outside of dedicated job roles, and, in some cases, an unpleasant work environment, according to a joint study from Deloitte and Automotive News.
Flipping the Script
Though obstacles persist, there are still ways women seeking mentorship can build such relationships as well as instill lasting systems of support for those who come after.
Women in Autonomy is dedicated to empowering women in our industry, launching a Mentorship Program last fall. If you or someone you know is looking to share their knowledge, skills and journey to rising women in the automotive or autotech industry, or if you're looking to learn from those who’ve walked before in order to grow your career and network, apply to be a mentor or mentee today! Applications for the 6-month Spring 2021 program are open through January 31st.
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