Women and mentorship, sigh…


What can anyone say? Here is a comment from Lady M. regarding women’s reluctance to appear as expert and therefore able to give advice:

In my experience, even very established women writers shy away from proclaiming this. Is it insecurity? A lack of hubris? Perhaps–huge generalization–women are more likely to live in the grey, believing we all still have so much to learn, we are evolving, we are all so different.

And Annie’s point:

…women poets ask less for mentorship than men, as a rule. This may be the reason for Roberto’s observation that Stein and other women tend to mentor men more (imagine if Sylvia Beach had mentored a woman instead of mentoring Joyce–or if Lady Augusta Gregory or Harriet Monroe had made a point to mentor women). Men ask more.

Yes they do ask more. And yes, women often privilege a different kind of thinking, one that is more fluid, changeable, open, and often derided as less critical. At least in the poetry world. My academic friends in English and History at least, do not report this same problem with perception and/or feeling mentored and included. So, this issue is specific in some way to the poetry world. Or, from my perspective, heightened in the poetry world.

My male poet friends know that they need to stick together. Many of them roam in bands nipping at the heels of naysayers and slapping each other on the back encouragingly. Not all mind you, but an impressive number.

I’m wondering if that exists for women? Or, if as one comment suggested, women don’t perceive other women as having power, so they look to men for guidance and/or support in their career.

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