Breaking the bias on mentorship
To celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I want to #BreakTheBias on mentorship.
Over the years, mentorship has enabled me to meet and learn from so many incredible, purposeful, successful and inspiring women from all across the world. Both mentees and mentors have taught me so much about myself.
Young or old, student or employee, freelancer or employer, there is something in mentorship for everyone. Therefore, it only made sense for this month’s blog to be a collaboration between a mentee and a mentor. So, I bring you my interview with LMF blogger Taneisha Moore.
Here is how I met Taneisha…
A couple of years ago, Taneisha and I joined the thinkHer Ambition x Unilever program. This mentorship aims to support women, between 15–19, in pursuing a career in S.T.E.M. Since the end of the program, Taneisha and I have worked on multiple initiatives from the LMF to Lean In London.
What was your biggest misconception about S.T.E.M programs before joining the thinkHER AMBITION program?
Taneisha: “I used to think you had to undertake a traditional S.T.E.M qualification (like mathematics) to do such a program. Especially with S.T.E.M, there was a wide variety of classes you could take and many mentors you could have. So, therefore there are so many ways in which you can take part in a STEM program.”
Gaëlle: “Despite having years of mentorship experience, I didn’t feel I was up for the challenge. Being a millennial, I first thought mentoring a Gen Zer would be out of my league, as it was a demographics I had never managed/ mentored. But then, I thought of my 15,16,17… year old self, who studied economics with little understanding of what a S.T.E.M career entailed. I remembered that back then, I used to ask thousands of questions to anybody who remotely worked in any sales/ marketing role. All I wanted back then was a network to lean on and tap into.”
What made you decide to become a mentor for a S.T.E.M program?
Gaëlle: “I realised that as a Business School student, I used to wonder what a career in marketing looked like. And after over a decade in a mix of brand and innovation roles, I felt that I had a great understanding of where a degree in S.T.E.M would lead. And therefore, I thought it would be such a shame not to share this knowledge.”
When you first met me, did you have any expectations of what a mentor should be and did those get met as you got to know me?
Taneisha: “I always thought a mentor would be very academic-focused. I always believed the relationship between a mentor/a mentee would be similar to a teacher/student. But eventually, I realised that having a mentor is like having a therapist, a life advisor, a coach… In that way, it is so beneficial to have a mentor. There are so many aspects one would not think of at first. Having a mentor is someone you can ask for advice or tell things like ‘I am up here/ I have made this achievement/ I have done this in life’. These are relationships that can last for so long, and I never thought having a mentor would be like that.”
Were there any jobs you considered out of reach before starting the mentorship and since then realised those were possible?
Taneisha: “Before the program, I didn’t realise that careers in marketing or publishing were options. In school, they only really teach students about well-known career options- like doctors or lawyers. They don’t teach you about the more nuanced options like marketing, and now that is something I am genuinely considering as an option.”
What was your biggest learning as a mentor?
Gaëlle: “If you don’t try, you don’t know. By mentoring Taneisha, I realised that soft skills are transferrable from one mentee to another. Basic values like honesty, authenticity, respect and empathy are values that everybody yearns for. Last but not least, it got me thinking that mentoring a Gen Zer might be in the cards again. “
This month, I have decided not to end the blog with a quote but with a prompt. A call to action, really… One which I hope will leave beyond March. I want to know about the bias(es) you want to break. So, your turn to share and tag me on Linkedin.
Gaëlle COUBERES is a French but Londoner at heart; she has been living in the UK for over twelve years.
She believes in the power of sisterhood; championing both diversity & inclusion and mental health.
Gaëlle works for Unilever as Sr Global Innovation Manager, taking pride in being a content creator, a mental health champion, and a mentor. She truly believes in the power of community and solidarity, the magic dust that makes a difference in life’s wild ride.
Besides crafting content for the Like-Minded Female Network as a Blogger, she leads Lean In London. Beyond that role, she is also a Mental Health First Aider and volunteer for the incredible #IamRemarkable initiative.
How can you keep in touch?
What is LMF Network?
The LMF Network is a global social enterprise (not for profit) focused on empowering, enabling & educating women and marginalised groups into tech, entrepreneurship & digital. We specialise in designing and delivering accessible programmes and supporting a global community. We’ve gone from a brunch club to a social good brand based on what the community wanted. We are a real community run by real people.