Handbook on Women in Business and Management
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Handbook on Women in Business and Management

Edited by Diana Bilimoria and Sandy Kristin Piderit

This comprehensive Handbook presents specially commissioned original essays on the societal roles and contexts facing women in business and management, the specific career and work–life issues of women in these fields, organizational processes affecting women, and the role of women as leaders in business and management. The essays shed light on the extant structures and practices of society and organizations that constrain or facilitate women’s representation, treatment, quality of life, and success.
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Chapter 7: Mentoring as a Career Development Tool: Gender, Race and Ethnicity Implications

Helen M. Woolnough and Marilyn J. Davidson


Helen M. Woolnough and Marilyn J. Davidson Introduction Mentoring is increasingly regarded as an essential career development tool that aids individual development and contributes to a successful, progressive career. Empirical research has consistently demonstrated that mentees experience an array of positive outcomes from mentoring relationships including enhanced career mobility, increased job satisfaction and increased visibility (Chao, 1997; Fagenson, 1989; Woolnough et al., 2005). As the ability to learn, grow and adapt becomes more essential to organizational effectiveness, organizations are increasingly recognizing the benefits of lifelong learning through mechanisms such as mentoring (Allen and Poteet, 1999; Kram, 2004). This is even more essential considering the traditional linear career structure is increasingly being replaced by more flexible structures to meet the complex demands of a rapidly changing marketplace. These flexible structures necessitate organizational socialization and networking (Higgins and Kram, 2001) and mentors are an effective resource to facilitate and guide this greater organizational movement (Kram, 2004). Whilst mentoring is recognized as an important career development tool for men and women, it has been suggested that mentoring relationships are particularly crucial to the career development of women in business and management. Research conducted with senior women has identified mentoring as a specific strategy employed by women to enable them to climb the corporate ladder (Davidson and Burke, 2004; Ragins, Townsend and Mattis, 1998; Vinnicombe and Singh, 2003). This has led Ragins (2002: 44) to claim that mentoring may be the ‘ice pick’ for breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’, an invisible...

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