By Megan Brown-Saldana, executive director, Lead(h)er

Mentorship is problem-solving expertise or insight and is a medium in which, with the right influence, you can do anything. 

I was matched with my first formal mentor, Amber, at 28 years old through Lead(h)er’s Strike a Match Mentorship Program. As I was searching for my own direction, Amber believed in me. When I navigated my annual contract and compensation package, Amber cheered me on. She believed I deserved the good things long before I did. If you suffer from imposter syndrome like me, you probably borrow the belief you have in yourself and your abilities from others more often than not. Mentorship lets you borrow belief from those around you and prepares you to give it just as freely once you have found it in yourself.

I could go on and on about the influence mentors have had on both my personal and professional journey, but the truth is that mentorship is so unique to each individual. Lead(h)er is so impactful because of the individual stories and diverse experiences of each of the 1,000 women served since its inception in 2016. For most women, a mentor is a person who bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Whether it is landing a promotion, carving out a seat at the table, or finding extra family time each week, one story ripples across entire communities. 

Access to mentorship is the sixth-highest barrier for working women in Iowa. 

Women are 24% less likely than men to get advice from senior leaders and represent only 8.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

If the 28-cent pay gap that women in the Quad Cities experience was placed on a list next to pay gaps in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., it would come in 48th, tying with Louisiana and coming ahead of just Utah and Wyoming. Iowa’s gender pay gap is 22 cents. Although often unintentional, the impact of work-based discrimination is far-reaching. To further complicate matters, workplace inequities are greater for women of color. Sixty-two percent of women of color say they believe a lack of mentorship holds them back in their careers.

Mentorship is the great equalizer. When leveraged, the right mentor can teach you the skills needed to overcome barriers such as the second shift, the wage gap and the lack of comprehensive support networks. Through my mentor, I’ve been able to overcome great obstacles and accomplish my “anything.” Mentorship matters because you do. I believe in you.

Megan Brown-Saldana started as executive director of the Lead(h)er Strike a Match Mentoring Program in January 2020. Fueled by chaos, caffeine and connection, she is committed to making the Quad Cities a more equitable place to work and live.

Categories: Guest opinion