The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

Warren Buffett: Young women should get mentors

Hello! I apologize for my month’s absence: I had been student-teaching for my final block of 20 days to a Grade 8 class. Rotary schedules are harder to manage than expected! However, I had lots of fun, and my students loved me enough to bring their chairs and eat lunch with me in the congested photocopy room. I do assure you wholeheartedly that I will resume posting every Thursday again. 

Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy perusing through my posts. 

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Warren Buffett is, by conventional standards, one of the most successful businessmen in the 20th century, perhaps even the most successful investor. He’s ranked as one of the world’s wealthiest individuals.

But he isn’t one of those snobby, rich people the media portrays. He’s a philanthropist as well, and pledged to give away 99% of his fortune to philanthropic causes, mostly through the Gates Foundation.

In this article, he acts as a mentor for Generation Y, and gives very practical and useful advice that would actually benefit everybody, regardless of which generation they were born in. Some of his advice may seem very common sense, such as “Find your passion”, “Communicate effectively”, “Learn how to say no”, and some are a little more specific, like “Be careful who you admire” and “develop healthy habits by studying people” (of course, the last bit of advice follows after the admiration one).

His last bit of advice bothers me: Young women should get mentors. Perhaps it is really the fault of the author of Elite Daily, since he was the one who summarized these words into short, concise sentences, but why only “young women”? The following is Buffett’s advice in his own words:

These [mentoring] relationships all just evolve. I never set out to become a mentor … It’s amazing … how the person that really wants to do a terrific job just jumps out. There aren’t that many. You will be perceived as exceptional and as a worthy person for a superior to spend some extra time with if you just do something extra all the time. It seems elementary, but it’s true.

That advice does not seem to connote any gender-bias. It doesn’t specifically state that it is for females or males, women or men, it merely states that mentoring relationships are beneficial. In fact, I’m not sure why the author has specifically stated “young women”, or perhaps Buffett had mentioned earlier that this was targeted to young women.

However, mentoring relationships help everybody out. It helps the mentee expand their networks while gaining experience in the field. “Learning on the job” was often shunned as lower-class learning, almost equated to “Apprenticeship” and seen as a lower form of learning, when it can prove to be more meaningful and effective than sitting in lecture classes.

Mentors gain from this experience too. They can see the fresh and new ideas that mentees bring with them from their social contexts. Mentees can also have experiences that mentors probably never had, and never will have, due to their own stage in life. These experiences can help liven up the work setting and even enhance efficacy and productivity!

And of course, the benefits are not limited only to the mentor and mentee. Colleagues and admin of the mentor also benefit because of the presence of this mentee.

So it was really bizarre to see how young women were singled out for this piece of advice. Why are they highlighted? Is it because women, especially young women, are less capable of finding jobs and securing themselves in their respective fields? Although women are still expected to do domestic and work duties (and not make a fuss about it), affirmative action has been riding the tidal wave in the last few years to ensure that the non-dominant groups, such as women and people of visible minorities, have equal opportunity to apply and get a job.

In fact, TDSB even leaked a memo seeking to hire males because there were too many females in the teaching field.

So although Buffett offers very sound and practical advice, perhaps the author, or Buffett himself, should revise their thoughts. Everybody benefits from a mentoring relationship, not only “young women”.

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2013 by in education, school, society and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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