Is Lack of Quality Mentorship Why Women Earn Less?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Society has been talking about the gender pay gap since the 1970s, and everyone loves to repeat that women earn 70% of what men do. The truth is more nuanced, and the gender gap varies by industry: Women in real estate and community associations earn 60.6% of their male counterparts' salary, while female respiratory therapists earn more than their male colleagues, at 106.4%. Yet, according to Pew, women earn more than men in just 7 out of 500 professions studied, and one of many social and professional obstacles may be a lack of good mentorship.

Also see: How to Close the Gender Wage Gap

"Anecdotal evidence shows that it's still much more difficult for women to ascend in their careers," said Rachel Sklar at an Internet Week New York panel on women and mentorship. Sklar is the founder of Change the Ratio and The.List, websites dedicated to empowering women in the workplace. "Men tend to get more powerful mentors more easily, and the gender pay gap persists," Sklar said.

The Internet Week panel was led by Wenda Millard, President/COO of MediaLink, and included luminaries Gail Tifford, Senior Media Director of Unilever North America, and Nada Stirratt, Chief Revenue Officer and EVP of Axciom.

How Is Female Mentorship Different?

According to Sklar, in addition to simply having more access to mentors, men often have access to better mentors. "Especially when starting your career, it's important [for women] to pay attention to the types of introductions you receive. Are they always about what you can do for free, or someone else you can help? Or is it, 'Let me recommend you for this speaking gig,' or 'you should get paid for what you do?'" Looking back on the beginning of her career as a corporate lawyer, Sklar doesn't think she received the greatest advice. Although she's not the timid type, she still made decisions that relinquished her own power rather than seizing it.