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Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women

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Increasingly, new employees and junior members of any profession are encouraged—sometimes stridently—to “find a mentor!” Four decades of research reveals that the effects of mentorship can be profound and enduring; strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. Organizations that retain and promote top talent—both female Increasingly, new employees and junior members of any profession are encouraged—sometimes stridently—to “find a mentor!” Four decades of research reveals that the effects of mentorship can be profound and enduring; strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. Organizations that retain and promote top talent—both female and male—are more likely to thrive. But the mentoring landscape is unequal. Evidence consistently shows that women face more barriers in securing mentorships than men, and when they do find a mentor, they may reap a narrower range of both career and psychological benefits. Athena Rising is a book for men about how to mentor women deliberately and effectively. It is a straightforward, no-nonsense manual for helping men of all institutions, organizations, and businesses to become excellent mentors to women. Co-authors W. Brad Johnson, PhD and David Smith, PhD draw from extensive research and years of experience as experts in mentoring relationships and gender workplace issues. When a man mentors a woman, they explain, the relationship is often complicated by conventional gender roles and at times hostile external perceptions. Traditional notions of mentoring are often modeled on male-to-male relationships—the sort that begin on the golf course, involve a nearly exclusive focus on career achievement, and include more than a few slaps on the back over drinks after work. But women often report a desire for mentoring that integrates career and family aspects of life. Women want a mentor who not only “gets” this, but truly honors it. Men need to fully appreciate just how crucial their support of promising junior women can be in helping them to persist, promote, and thrive in their vocations and organizations. As women succeed, lean in, and assume leading roles in any organization or work context, that culture will become more egalitarian, effective, and prone to retaining top talent.


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Increasingly, new employees and junior members of any profession are encouraged—sometimes stridently—to “find a mentor!” Four decades of research reveals that the effects of mentorship can be profound and enduring; strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. Organizations that retain and promote top talent—both female Increasingly, new employees and junior members of any profession are encouraged—sometimes stridently—to “find a mentor!” Four decades of research reveals that the effects of mentorship can be profound and enduring; strong mentoring relationships have the capacity to transform individuals and entire organizations. Organizations that retain and promote top talent—both female and male—are more likely to thrive. But the mentoring landscape is unequal. Evidence consistently shows that women face more barriers in securing mentorships than men, and when they do find a mentor, they may reap a narrower range of both career and psychological benefits. Athena Rising is a book for men about how to mentor women deliberately and effectively. It is a straightforward, no-nonsense manual for helping men of all institutions, organizations, and businesses to become excellent mentors to women. Co-authors W. Brad Johnson, PhD and David Smith, PhD draw from extensive research and years of experience as experts in mentoring relationships and gender workplace issues. When a man mentors a woman, they explain, the relationship is often complicated by conventional gender roles and at times hostile external perceptions. Traditional notions of mentoring are often modeled on male-to-male relationships—the sort that begin on the golf course, involve a nearly exclusive focus on career achievement, and include more than a few slaps on the back over drinks after work. But women often report a desire for mentoring that integrates career and family aspects of life. Women want a mentor who not only “gets” this, but truly honors it. Men need to fully appreciate just how crucial their support of promising junior women can be in helping them to persist, promote, and thrive in their vocations and organizations. As women succeed, lean in, and assume leading roles in any organization or work context, that culture will become more egalitarian, effective, and prone to retaining top talent.

30 review for Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I know I'm not the target audience for this book, but I am a potential target mentee so I thought I'd see what the men were learning! Now that I've read it, I don't know who the target audience is--either that or men have not evolved as much as I thought (which very well could be)! Since so much of this book focused on dealing with women's emotions, let me start by playing into that stereotype and provide range of emotions experience as I read the book (in the order experienced): amusement, confu I know I'm not the target audience for this book, but I am a potential target mentee so I thought I'd see what the men were learning! Now that I've read it, I don't know who the target audience is--either that or men have not evolved as much as I thought (which very well could be)! Since so much of this book focused on dealing with women's emotions, let me start by playing into that stereotype and provide range of emotions experience as I read the book (in the order experienced): amusement, confusion, annoyance, incredulity, out-right shock, and finally something resembling loathing. The author's theme was laudable, but its execution leaves me scarred. Every single chapter had a section that discussed, essentially, why men should suppress their sexual feelings and not sleep with their mentee. I realize this is a topic that should be discussed--once or twice, but it was drilled so much that I was left with this icky sense that I've been unknowingly violated my whole working life and didn't know it! If this resonates with men, great. For me it just reinforced old stereotypes--of both men and women. Much of the "mentoring" discussed sounded like simply how to talk to and work with a woman, e.g. treat her the same, listen to her speak, encourage her. In my experience there are greater issues of implicit bias hindering women, and this book's emphasis on the obvious issues seen in retro shows like Mad Men is no longer helpful (hopefully) to the vast majority of working women seeking mentorship.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jer

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for the idea... but only ⭐️⭐️⭐️ for the book itself. Patronizing, redundant, bereft of almost any stories or vignettes, the content could easily be summed-up in a mid-length article (which would have taken less time). Although some useful nuggets are there, the authors seem to fall (ironically) prey to their stated need for women’s perspectives and leadership in the workplace, as this book offers very few of the stories and personal experiences that I would have hoped to hear in pursu ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for the idea... but only ⭐️⭐️⭐️ for the book itself. Patronizing, redundant, bereft of almost any stories or vignettes, the content could easily be summed-up in a mid-length article (which would have taken less time). Although some useful nuggets are there, the authors seem to fall (ironically) prey to their stated need for women’s perspectives and leadership in the workplace, as this book offers very few of the stories and personal experiences that I would have hoped to hear in pursuing greater knowledge of effective cross-gender mentoring relationships.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    If you've picked up this book on your own accord, you'll probably find it a bit too on-the-nose. But, you'll want to skim it anyway for relevant backgrounder as I'm sure you'll know others who might benefit from reading this through and they will need some convincing. To that end: If someone has gently encouraged you to read this book and it seems of interest, you probably have a blind spot somewhere and should consider giving this a read so you can more effectively interact with female colleagues If you've picked up this book on your own accord, you'll probably find it a bit too on-the-nose. But, you'll want to skim it anyway for relevant backgrounder as I'm sure you'll know others who might benefit from reading this through and they will need some convincing. To that end: If someone has gently encouraged you to read this book and it seems of interest, you probably have a blind spot somewhere and should consider giving this a read so you can more effectively interact with female colleagues. If someone has mentioned this book to you multiple times and you don't think it's at all relevant to you, you should buy this book, read it, and internalize every word. Yes, this means you. (To the authors: well done, guys. Don't mind my 3-star review as it's more for Goodreads to recommend me new titles than an evaluation of your writing. To the folks who thought it's odd that two men wrote about how to mentor women: consider the intended audience.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tegan

    Maybe there are men who have never interacted with real-life women before reading this book. This book is for them. I am so thankful that the great mentors in my life treated me like a person and not like a delicate, sensitive time bomb. I can’t wait to see if my male colleagues were as appalled by this book as I was reading these pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Florence Pauline

    This is such a great guide for why men should mentor women and how exactly to approach mentoring in such a context. As a young female scientist who has had two male mentors and a female mentor who was mentored by a great male scientist, this book made me appreciate my unique experience (knowing that there are still several women out there who either don't have mentors or not being mentored well). The authors have done extensive research on the topic and gave great real-life, modern examples from This is such a great guide for why men should mentor women and how exactly to approach mentoring in such a context. As a young female scientist who has had two male mentors and a female mentor who was mentored by a great male scientist, this book made me appreciate my unique experience (knowing that there are still several women out there who either don't have mentors or not being mentored well). The authors have done extensive research on the topic and gave great real-life, modern examples from a variety of fields (STEM: Janet Petro and Robert Lightfoot from NASA and other scientists, Social Sciences: Larry Summers and Sheryl Sandberg, Military). The authors covered several very important aspects of mentoring including setting boundaries and managing power-dynamics. They also included important concepts in gender stereotypes such as benevolent sexism, which is very important because a lot of times we fail to recognize and act on subtle sexism compared to hostile sexism. This book really highlights the importance of mentoring in every field. I highly recommend this book to anyone (regardless of gender but most especially to female mentees) starting out in their field as it gives a perspective on what you can expect from mentors (and what you should ask), as well as to those who are already mentors (especially men). It is important for men to mentor and champion women so we can have more female leaders who can serve as examples to young women starting out their careers. Hopefully, in the future, mentoring regardless of gender won't be negatively perceived anymore so we won't have to care about what the gender of our mentor or mentee will be.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    This is a must read for leaders in every area. It is well researched, simple, and backed up with excellent examples from successful women across several disciplines. The principles are sound and apply to anyone, but this book provides the necessary details particular to men mentoring women. The authors do generalize, for quite obvious reasons, but they explain what they’re doing and why and identify the other nuances. Interesting to me we’re the skills and traits (generally) displayed by women v This is a must read for leaders in every area. It is well researched, simple, and backed up with excellent examples from successful women across several disciplines. The principles are sound and apply to anyone, but this book provides the necessary details particular to men mentoring women. The authors do generalize, for quite obvious reasons, but they explain what they’re doing and why and identify the other nuances. Interesting to me we’re the skills and traits (generally) displayed by women vs men. Empathy, team building, high emotional and social IQ. These qualities are and should be necessary for all great leaders. This is why the book can be applied, in general with most of the principles, by anyone. The nature of the Information Age and primacy of knowledge based industry require more collaborative and connective styles of leadership. In fact, many traits of toxic leaders have always been toxic, they were just tolerated for too long. But I digress. If you read this book and don’t have a least a couple dozen ideas for your toolkit, in work and in life, you should read it again. This was a long overdue read for me, albeit a quick one. Definitely need a copy for future reference.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fitz

    Saw this on the CENTCOM Commanding General's Reading List. Unless you've been living under a rock, every day gives us more and more insight on why this book needs to exist and why it should be read. Sound and practical advice for men to check their blindspots, enhance self-awareness, and open our apertures to increase visiblity on what our workplaces look like from the vantage point of women. This is not a policy book. Frankly, we are past needing policy books. This is a tactical book on how to Saw this on the CENTCOM Commanding General's Reading List. Unless you've been living under a rock, every day gives us more and more insight on why this book needs to exist and why it should be read. Sound and practical advice for men to check their blindspots, enhance self-awareness, and open our apertures to increase visiblity on what our workplaces look like from the vantage point of women. This is not a policy book. Frankly, we are past needing policy books. This is a tactical book on how to implement better practices from the seasoned mentor to the nascent and future mentors in the modern workplace. Two cons: Book could have been condensed a bit...seemed to repeat some information for the sake of repeating it. Too much reliance on Sandberg's "Lean In." While a noteworthy book worth reading, she is too often quoted in this book when I would think other sources could have served the purpose.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I’m not the target audience for this book...it’s clearly for men. However, much the advice and suggestions in this book are applicable to both men and women. I gained several insights that I plan to implement to help me be a better leader and mentor in my office. And I found it useful, as a woman, to gain deeper insight into how professional men may perceive professional women. I would recommend the book to men in my office (and my husband) who are in leadership positions. However, my guess is t I’m not the target audience for this book...it’s clearly for men. However, much the advice and suggestions in this book are applicable to both men and women. I gained several insights that I plan to implement to help me be a better leader and mentor in my office. And I found it useful, as a woman, to gain deeper insight into how professional men may perceive professional women. I would recommend the book to men in my office (and my husband) who are in leadership positions. However, my guess is that the majority of the males in my workplace would not read the book let alone see that they (and the organization) could benefit from learning how to better coach and mentor women. And I don’t think it’s only a gender issue...I also see it as a generational issue. In my experience, most male Baby Boomers have issues with gender bias...both conscious and unconscious...in the workplace. The younger men in my office do a much better job of mentoring and interacting with women in the workplace.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Schwan

    The author gave a workshop at my company last year. He is in charge of mentoring programs within the US naval Academy. Before his workshop I had participated in a trial mentoring program within the company, in which men mentored men and women mentored women. His message is that today much of the power within an organization is still held by men so when women are not mentored by men their career path is not as robust. He writes about many perceived pitfalls and debunks them one at a time. I am ha The author gave a workshop at my company last year. He is in charge of mentoring programs within the US naval Academy. Before his workshop I had participated in a trial mentoring program within the company, in which men mentored men and women mentored women. His message is that today much of the power within an organization is still held by men so when women are not mentored by men their career path is not as robust. He writes about many perceived pitfalls and debunks them one at a time. I am happy to say that the current mentoring program has both men and women mentoring women, of which I am one of the mentors.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vuk Trifkovic

    Hella weird book! There is sooooo much wrong in the text. You could pick at it for days. Most of the stuff is way too rudimentary (along the lines of "it's not good idea to sexually proposition your mentees"). So much of it won't be of much use in a more "woke" environments than the armed forces. Yet, the basic concepts it espouses - supporting without patronizing, listening as much as talking, speaking up - are hard to fault. Overall, 2* as a read, but 3* for bringing these topics to the ultrama Hella weird book! There is sooooo much wrong in the text. You could pick at it for days. Most of the stuff is way too rudimentary (along the lines of "it's not good idea to sexually proposition your mentees"). So much of it won't be of much use in a more "woke" environments than the armed forces. Yet, the basic concepts it espouses - supporting without patronizing, listening as much as talking, speaking up - are hard to fault. Overall, 2* as a read, but 3* for bringing these topics to the ultramacho environments.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dietz

    I appreciate the work done for this book and the attempt to foster mentoring women. Parting thoughts sums up the hold of male attitudes- stating "you'll be a better man. For your good work, we thank you in advance." There are some good points but the authors have not been able to lift themselves out of traditional dominance and self appreciation to reach parity. It's a good start and attempt but self-congratulating and naive. The authors have a long way to go to really impact this problem and se I appreciate the work done for this book and the attempt to foster mentoring women. Parting thoughts sums up the hold of male attitudes- stating "you'll be a better man. For your good work, we thank you in advance." There are some good points but the authors have not been able to lift themselves out of traditional dominance and self appreciation to reach parity. It's a good start and attempt but self-congratulating and naive. The authors have a long way to go to really impact this problem and seem to have no insight into their limitations.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Hardy

    Overall I felt that they did a great job of giving the how and why of mentoring women and I think it is a message that needs to be heard more. I think it is also important that it came from people in a historically male dominated industry to show that this can and needs to happen everywhere. A lot of the advice seams to be "duh" type of advice but I think on this topic it helps to address each topic directly and they did a good job of taking these on head on. Overall I felt that they did a great job of giving the how and why of mentoring women and I think it is a message that needs to be heard more. I think it is also important that it came from people in a historically male dominated industry to show that this can and needs to happen everywhere. A lot of the advice seams to be "duh" type of advice but I think on this topic it helps to address each topic directly and they did a good job of taking these on head on.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pete Zilla

    I thought in many ways this book was applicable for more than just male leaders of women. Leaders frequently assume that what they find important in their life is what you find important, and what their career path was is also best for you. That is obviously not at all true. The author anchors his argument around how men should be cognizant of how they lead women, but I think these skills will make you a better leader of everyone.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    *Goodreads giveaway. I received this book for free.* This is a no-nonsense manual for male mentors with female mentees. The language is plain and easily to follow, and the authors back up their suggestions with research and appropriate examples. I appreciated the brevity (the manual itself is only about 160 pages) and the anecdotes from women who've offered their stories to illustrate certain points throughout the book. *Goodreads giveaway. I received this book for free.* This is a no-nonsense manual for male mentors with female mentees. The language is plain and easily to follow, and the authors back up their suggestions with research and appropriate examples. I appreciated the brevity (the manual itself is only about 160 pages) and the anecdotes from women who've offered their stories to illustrate certain points throughout the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    From the reading list of the U.S. Special Operations Command General, this is the best mentorship book I ever read - while it’s a guide for men mentoring women, I found it applicable for women mentoring men. I also found valuable lessons for universal mentorship, as well as unintended insight to being a better mentee.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Todd Cheng

    Five stars for the topic and approach of two guys writing it. Lost a couple of stars as would have liked to see more data aligned to the narrative. I attended one of their speaking events in 2019; this was why I bought the book. That data and economic points made a good business case that men must mentor women and women should mentor men.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Raymond B.

    This could be as good as a 5. I think it really depends on the ready and where they are in their leadership development. The authors provide a lot of great guidance and any man hesitant about mentoring women needs to read this. However, we all need to continually improving these skills no matter our mentee and who our mentees, fellow mentors and leaders do the same.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Mena and women in any kind of leadership position should read this. It gives a unique outlook on what an ideal mentor/mentee relationship should look like. Men would benefit greatly from reading the guidance given in this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    KT

    While this book is aimed at men, it was still useful for me to understand why men may be reluctant to mentor women, and why it's worth fighting for. Also the tips on how to be a good mentor are useful for everyone. While this book is aimed at men, it was still useful for me to understand why men may be reluctant to mentor women, and why it's worth fighting for. Also the tips on how to be a good mentor are useful for everyone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jannel Black

    Though geared towards men mentoring women, this book is for everyone. If you are mentoring or seeking mentorship, this is a must read. Yes, some of the recommendations seem common sense, but they are worth reviewing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Koehler

    Wanted to like, but was too repetitive and relied on stereotypes. The parts I liked were the quotes from other women and the sentences with footnotes. In other words, the research was interesting, but the writing not.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sean Cunningham

    Glad I read it. Repetitive at times. Authors are military, & understand hierarchy. Recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan Ward

    An outstanding, thoughtful, practical book. It was recommended to me by a female friend (who is a retired Lt Col in the USMC), and is a must read for anyone who wants to be a mentor.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    A lot of good information!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karla Winick-Ford

    Good PD resource mentor ship

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anneli Hardy

    So many good ideas of how men can help women succeed in the workplace. I also think it applies to many different aspects of life as well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Lee

    A must read for all men.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    [I listened to the audio book after it being recommended by a female boss.]

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bev Kean-Newhook

    Excellent read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Knolla

    Faces the difficulty that these kind of books often are confronted with, that those most likely to read them are likely ready for more advanced material while those who would most benefit from the basics are least likely to crack the covers, with reasonable aplomb. It handles this in two ways. First by regularly blending the basics with next level techniques and challenges. Second, by building a strong case for those who believe in the books concepts to go beyond “self-improvement” to “organizat Faces the difficulty that these kind of books often are confronted with, that those most likely to read them are likely ready for more advanced material while those who would most benefit from the basics are least likely to crack the covers, with reasonable aplomb. It handles this in two ways. First by regularly blending the basics with next level techniques and challenges. Second, by building a strong case for those who believe in the books concepts to go beyond “self-improvement” to “organizational upgrading” which could see the book placed very deliberately into the hands of those who need it more.

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