At FutureLab, we currently have 130 mentors from 6 different countries. We have a screening process for everyone who has come on board to mentor, and one our vital questions are – ‘Did you have a mentor?’ Each one of our mentors have given credit to one or more of their own mentors who made a monumental difference in facilitating them to achieve early success. At first, we noticed that these mentors they spoke about were generally men. We later noticed that pattern on our platform too at a 4:1 ratio of male to female mentors and this is even reflected when we reached out for options on this issue for this article. We work with numerous people day in day out, and there is a good balance of men and women we learn a lot from.So our question to women really is: If you are not mentoring, then why not? It should be a part of your legacy.
We also turned to Google which showed us we are not alone with this imbalance. We believe that both male and female perspectives are critical to the success of our mentees and sought to understand this phenomenon better within our community. Our own first instinct was to seek input from our mentors to find out the difference between genders at the workplace. This is what they said:
1.Sirhajwan Idek: Men and women are supposed to be equally capable in doing any job. However, there are different expectations for men and women in the workplace. As much as we wish for absolute equality, we are still constrained by deeply entrenched perspectives on what men and women can do and how they should behave at work. As a teacher, I have seen women who were able to do things that society thinks only men can perform. I also know some men who successfully did what people usually felt only women are good at. Regardless of how people perceive us at work, what matters most is for us to show our true capabilities and challenge ourselves to take risks, try new things and constantly learn to be better. If we are able to do this, there is nothing that we can’t disprove, there is no barrier that we can’t break and there are no stereotypes that we can’t eradicate. Do things because you want to do them, not because you want to fulfil anyone’s expectations but because you want to prove it to yourself that you can do it.
Speak with our Teacher at Keningau Vocational College (Malaysia), Sirhajwan Idek
2. Mark Lim: There is a difference between men and women in the workplace and these differences are to be celebrated. I personally love differences. Differences are what helps us achieve amazing things and both men and women bring very different perspective, thoughts, emotions and of, course solutions to the table. When we are able to merge all this together, we are able to achieve great outcomes. These differences should be acknowledged, embraced and celebrated.
Speak with our Technology Consultant at Accenture (Malaysia), Mark Lim
3. Patrick Tan: There is no distinctive difference between men and women in the workplace. Although some (or maybe a lot) may argue women are more driven by emotion when making decisions or men are calmer in discussion, I highly disagree with these points. I think the fundamentals of a right decision are driven by facts, logic, and rationale. Gender isn’t and never will be a factor in affecting the decision making process and professional work ability. As long as the individual is capable of making logical fact-based analysis, discounting the gender, should arrive at a similar conclusion.
Speak with our Sourcing Consultant at A.T Kearney (Malaysia),Patrick Tan
4. Edmond Yap: Is there a difference between your mother and your father? Is there a difference between your brother and your sister? Is there a difference between your girl-friends and your boy-friends? Of course there are. You know all too well what they are. The question we should ask instead — what are the similarities between men and women in the workplace? We all want respect, we all want to be appreciated, we all want to matter, we all want challenging work, and we all want to be trusted. Men and women have much more in common than we have differences.
Speak with our Co-Founder at EduNation (Malaysia), Edmond Yap
5. Thatchu Naidu: I believe this is a question that would have received very different replies if it was asked a decade ago, or even 5 years ago for that matter. These days, there is little to no difference between men and women in the workplace, especially in more modernised organisations. In most traditional organisations, women still tend to take up jobs that require planning, constant conversations with customers, for example, or even mundane tasks whereas men tend to be the ones working as engineers on the shopfloor, running operations and troubleshooting equipment in an engineering environment. However, this gap is reducing as more technically apt women are coming to the forefront to offer their skills and abilities. Therefore, it is not fair to generalise and say there is a distinct difference between the genders, except for the positive fact that the gender gap in most aspects is reducing.
Speak with our Continuous Improvement Engineer at Morgan Advanced Material (United Kingdom), Thatchu Naidu
6. Tarminder Singh: Yes, there are differences between men and women in the workplace. One key difference lies in the aspect of communication. Men (particularly male bosses) tend to use more direct communication, provide answers and seldom “beat around the bush” when it comes to providing critical feedback. Women on the other hand tend to be more relationship-oriented. Women tend to focus on providing thought-provoking questions (such as “Have you tried exploring alternative ways in solving this problem?”) and tend to balance between positive and negative feedback. From personal experience, both genders bring their respective strengths to the fore and are equally important in today’s evolving world. A high-performing organization will prioritize cultivating a diverse workforce so that both genders can play their respective roles in ensuring the success of the organization.
Speak with our Senior Executive Strategic Planning and Development, International Medical University, Tarminder Singh
What we have concluded from all the mentors that responded is that while there are differences between men and women in the workforce, these are beneficial differences which play an important role in progress and development of society. We are still at the early stages of understanding this imbalance and whilst we do that we also call for all women to join us on FutureLab to become a mentor. Our call for women mentors to join FutureLab goes beyond the case for gender diversity, which is very important in itself. It is because we want a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets on our platform. We want to nurture the upcoming generation to develop a mindset of looking through numerous lenses and this can only happen if the other half of the human population joins us!