12 Susannah Charlton reflects on the benefits of WiP's mentoring scheme
The idea with the mentoring network was to provide a bridge for those women who were at middle management level and who really needed more kind of personal advice and coaching.
There were relatively few senior women in the profession, and whereas there was an informal network of senior men mentoring younger men in the profession, there were often not enough senior women in your organisation to fulfil that role. And I suspect not yet the tradition, which I hope is more prevalent now, of women feeling that was part of what they were doing, as a lot of women were having to work so hard at just kind of making their own way through the glass ceiling, and often while balancing that with a family, that they perhaps didn’t have as much time and mental space as their male colleagues to actually start bringing on the younger women in their organisation.
What did you feel would be the value for a younger woman of being mentored?
Having advice that she could trust from somebody who walked that path before. And I think particularly, on some of the less talked about issues of advancing in your career in any industry – about how you present yourself, about how you deal with the real world, which is not nearly as nice as the one that we all think we should be in, where people behave badly and have, you know, how you deal with the politics in the workplace, gender politics, but also people manoeuvring to get into the next, you know, to have their projects put forward. I think that sort of understanding how to play those games and win is one of the things you get from mentoring.
And also you get somebody who’s a champion, who might put your name forward when something comes up or who might say, look there’s a job going over there, or, you know, if you are raising your profile then you ought to go to this memorial service for an important person in publishing, or you ought to do things that help you be seen and be perceived as a player in the publishing world.