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Female leaders: mentorship and advice

by Georgie Smallwood ~ Founder of Auxilia

I recently had a conversation with a young female founder that has stuck with me for the last couple of weeks.

She has a great idea for an amazing new product that will really solve a gap in the WorkTech market yet. Coming into the incubator she knew that she needed a technical cofounder and she was so excited and determined that it be another young woman. In her search for this person, she contacted 70 amazing technical women on LinkedIn… not one of them responded.

She contacted many fewer men and had a 50% response rate- the men were really excited to hear what she had to say to hear about her idea and how she was going to change the industry of her product. My question is why didn’t the women respond?

Having worked in an incredibly male-dominated field for the last 10 to 15 years I’m familiar with the tale of in-experienced but intelligent, driven ambitious men reaching out to leaders in their field and asking if they can have a leg up (or funding :)

Recently a male leader approached me to tell me a story of how a part of his organization could be structured in the future he told me this from a position of confidence because he had just spoken with the senior Vice President of a global retailer he had spent 45 minutes on the phone with just chatting about how different structures have worked with for him in the past. I asked how on earth they got in contact with this amazing experienced leader, the response was “I just called him up and asked if he had 45 minutes to chat about the industry and some trends that were going on”.

I was blown away by the confidence in which this person believed that this experienced leader would take the time to spend with someone they didn’t know, on a topic that gave no return to them. Until that point, I would never do this.

This is something that women haven’t leaned into. Helping, connecting, just shooting the breeze with up-and-coming talent in our industries.

I’m not going to lie I’m really concerned about this. Women need to answer the phone we need to step up to the challenge. This is not an easy thing to do. It is especially hard if you don’t feel qualified or suffer any level of imposter syndrome but we need to stretch that muscle to build a network that women can rely on.

If it’s not something we are comfortable with then we need to pretend it is until our muscle is strong enough that we truly believe:

  1. female leaders of any level have insights and knowledge that can help other women succeed

  2. we can reach out to any female we admire for help and there’s a great chance they are open to a quick chat and if they aren’t we have other women we can talk to. An easy way to show you are open to this is to add #auxiliawoman to you social media profiles

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