Women Bring Diversity to Leadership Process

By Paul R. Pace

Mentoring Women for Leadership: Empowering the Next Generation

The 117th Congress this year celebrated a record number of women elected to serve. More women are moving into leadership roles around the world as well. A new book addresses the intricacy women face in leading and mentoring others.

Saundra Starks, PhD, professor and MSW program director at Western Kentucky University, answers questions about the NASW Press book Mentoring Women for Leadership: Empowering the Next Generation. Joining Starks in writing the book are Christa C. Gilliam, Gayle Mallinger, Cathryne L. Schmitz, and Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi.

What inspired this text?

In the process of exploring mentoring, it became clear that mentoring and leadership are intertwined. The complexity of women’s leadership surfaced as a story that had to be told to understand the context of mentoring. We came to recognize the multidimensional, interprofessional, and overlapping arenas where women have created spaces for leadership and mentoring. The story here brings forward the hidden history of women as leaders and mentors, documents the dramatic changes occurring during times of great transition, and looks forward into the future.

What audience may benefit from your book?

It would be informative for anyone who has an interest in the professional development of women as leaders and mentors in all arenas. This includes academics, students, organizations, and consultants. With a focus on mentoring as a dynamic process, we hope this book will be used to support the growth of a new generation of women leaders.

What are some key takeaways for readers?

We start with the herstory of leadership, highlighting the more transformative nature of women’s leadership. This history incorporates the complexity of leadership within the context of racism and sexism. The intersections across race/ethnicity, sex and gender, income, nationality, and abilities are embedded.

Chapter 5 highlights the leadership path of women, particularly women of color, bringing forward a path of development, the centrality of relationship, and the significance of humility and empathy.

In chapter 6, the rise of women leaders across disciplines was accelerated in response to the 2016 elections and the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. Their role as leaders, mentors, protectors, and change agents provides lessons. We build on the lessons in chapter 7 to focus forward. It really is about women claiming their voice. The diversity women bring to leadership enriches the process.

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