Putting the "Men" Back in "Mentor"

To be successful in the 21st century, it's more important to know what to say to whom, when, and under what circumstances, and for what purpose. 

What's the Big Idea?

At 29, Edie Weiner was the youngest woman to ever be elected to a corporate board. "I really do respect the women who run for public office because it is so personally assaulting on them," she told Big Think in a recent interview. "How they don’t go home every night and want to shoot themselves because there’s so much negative feedback --they have to be so hardened... The same thing is true in the board room."

Watch the video: 

Weiner embarked on her professional career as soon as she graduated from college. Her first job was in the life insurance business, an entirely male-dominated field. So she enlisted the men in her life as her mentors. "My great mentors were the men I worked for," she says, "my immediate boss, the person who became my eventual business partner. I found that everything else [was] irrelevant beyond my passion for the job that I was doing. In those early days, we were so pioneering in the work we were doing that I didn't really have much time to think about the fact that I was a woman in the face of all men." 

What's the Significance?

It's an interesting distinction given that so many of today's professional groups emphasize learning and networking along gender lines (Ladies Who LaunchStep Up Women's Network). The American Psychological Association, for instance, rightly points out that women mentors make all the difference in the academic careers of women graduate students. But in fields like business and technology, which are still marked by a persistent lack of women in leadership roles, such relationships can be hard to find. In 2010, only 15 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list were headed by women, and women currently make up only 25.4 percent of chief executives in the United States. The question becomes - what if more men mentored women to the top?  

Ultimately, the leadership skill that matters most is the same for both women and men, says Weiner. And it's not intelligence. It's wisdom -- the ability to pick and choose your battles. "Intelligence, male or female, is something that is valued in a lot of discussions," she says, "but in the end, how you get to the very top frequently rests on wisdom." Lots of people are intelligent and factual knowledge comes cheap in the information age.

To be successful in the 21st century, it's more important to know what to say to whom, when, and under what circumstances, and for what purpose. Good judgement and the independence that comes from experience are invaluable qualities in the workplace -- no matter where they come from.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Should teachers be fired for nude pics from their past?

Lauren Miranda sent a nude selfie to a boyfriend years ago. Somehow one of her students discovered it.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Math teacher Lauren Miranda was fired from her Long Island school when a topless selfie surfaced.
  • Miranda had only shared the photo with her ex-boyfriend, who is also a teacher in the school district.
  • She's suing the school for $3 million as well as getting her job back, citing gender discrimination.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less