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The problem with a lack of female mentors in business — and one inspiring way to fix it.

A brighter business future for the daughters of the world is in progress...

The problem with a lack of female mentors in business — and one inspiring way to fix it.
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Facebook #SheMeansBusiness

Starting a business requires more than just a will to succeed and a great idea.

Ya gotta be ready for the shark tank ... of life. GIF from "Shark Tank."


It takes support, mentors, help, connections, more support, more mentors, more help, more connections, lots of money ... rinse, repeat.

Just like you wouldn't climb Mount Everest without a Sherpa and a backpack, you wouldn't climb the mountain of entrepreneurship without guides and investments.

GIF from "The Simpsons."

Unfortunately, there's one other thing that seems to really help when seeking guides and starting a business: Being a dude.

For example, digital startups founded by men are 86% more likely to be funded by venture capitalists and 59% more likely to be funded by angel investors, compared with female-founded startups in the U.K.

The process of finding guides, making the relationships that pave the way for funding, success, and advice when you need it most is not really working the way it could for ladies.

According to a report by the Kauffman Foundation, of nearly 350 female CEOs, presidents, CTOs,and leading technologists of tech startups in the U.S., almost half reported that "a lack of available mentors or advisors" was one of the top challenges they faced with their ventures.

Would Luke have been successful without Yoda? Probably not. Ya gotta have a Yoda! GIF from "Star Wars."

So, how do you set a goal to create mentors for women? And how do you achieve it?

Gina Romero, founder of The Athena Network Singapore, knows how.

Images from The Athena Network, used with permission.

It's all about knowing a few key people and then strategically bringing them together. In an email to Upworthy, Romero puts it frankly: "Athena gives our members access to the knowledge and skills that small businesses and startups often don’t have — and more importantly collaboration and support."

On top of that, Facebook allows women, particularly in remote areas, an opportunity to connect. As Romero mentioned when we spoke to her, "Facebook is one of the most powerful platforms for community building and, of course, connecting people. Especially when you want to reach people from all walks of life and in remote places. I’m in the Philippines right now, staying in a rural town where people still pump water and cook on wood fires — yet almost everyone is on Facebook. That’s pretty incredible."

With in-person mentorship plus Facebook, the benefits of explicitly forming female mentorship relationships just take off!

Organizations that are intentional about bringing people (and especially women) together create opportunities for training, development, media training, and so much more.

Listening to Elyse Anne, a personal finance consultant and one member of The Athena Network Singapore, describe its benefits, it's clear this stuff is important. "When I joined Athena my goal was to get more media coverage. ... I closed about $10k in sales in the first year thanks to media coverage. I was able to raise my profile and increase my rates to charge what I'm worth."

Organizations like The Athena Network are vital. They give female entrepreneurs the opportunity to create their own networks, share learnings, and “collaborate for mutual success.”

Romero's trying to change things in Asia, but the lack of mentors is international. Of 318 women from 19 countries and 30 businesses, a whopping 63% had never had a mentor, all the while 67% of that same group listed mentorship as one of their highest priorities.

Something's gotta give.

GIF from "Bridget Jones's Diary."

What's really worth noting is that 65% of women who have been mentored go on to become mentors themselves, according to a Catalyst survey.

Romero is 100% an example of that. As she told Upworthy, "My calling is to connect people. Connecting people in a meaningful way can be very powerful."

Being aware that this problem exists is the first step. Creating more opportunities for female entrepreneurs and more opportunities for mentorship is the next.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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