This week, we are introducing you to one of our mentors, Dawn, who works as a physician in Dallas, TX. While we at 4word are big proponents of women professionals mentoring the younger women in their workplaces, we realize that this isn’t something all women naturally do.
Dawn has dealt with this very situation in the hospital where she works, and she had some great insight to offer on how to find your place in a work environment where you do not get support or aid from your senior women colleagues.
4word: What has it been like to work on a team where the women senior to you are not supportive of their younger colleagues? What has been most challenging about that?
Dawn: Having been mentored by a very caring and knowledgeable older female physician in my residency program, I was taken aback to discover that the two senior women in my current practice had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever. Not only did they not wish to provide mentorship, they were outwardly unfriendly.
As in all these types of situations, my first thought was: “what did I do wrong?” Despite all my positive efforts, I could not change the way these women interacted with me, nor could I change how they apparently felt about me. They had joined the practice around the same time as one another a number of years before me and had formed a strong bond together. They were not going to include anyone else in their little circle! It did not take long to realize that in order to succeed, I would have to look to others for information, leadership and support.
4word: How did you go about “finding your place” on your team? How have you adapted to work and still be successful in this environment?
Dawn: I did find meaningful mentoring relationships with a few of the older male physicians. Even one true relationship on a team can get you through difficult times. I adapted to the situation by reaching out to the technical and support staff in the hospital. I’ve become a leader, liaison and advocate for them. This has been very rewarding for me, allowing me to focus on the positive aspects of my workplace.
4word: Why did you decide to stick with your current job, even though your work culture is not ideal?
Dawn: Aside from the imperfect group dynamics, nearly every other aspect of the position was, and still is, well suited for me. We cannot allow others to deter us from our goals and dreams. Sure, barriers were set in place for me many times at work, but I discovered routes around them. In many ways, these women have been my best teachers. Learning how to work intimately with difficult people has been one of the greatest growing opportunities in my life. Above all, I knew that I was never alone. With God’s guidance and personal determination, we can persevere… and even excel.
4word: Is this experience at work part of the reason you decided to begin mentoring our 4word women in Dallas? If not, then what made you decide to begin mentoring younger, professional women?
Dawn: Yes. If a similar situation is occurring at some level in your workplace, stop the cycle and seek someone to mentor. Mentoring young professional women through 4word has been such a wonderful opportunity, and I am so grateful that I can share my thoughts, experience and opinions with enthusiastic gals trying to make their mark in their workplaces. I am also fortunate that I was able to balance a full time career with a successful family life. My husband of 25 years and two teens have brought me so much joy. I am delighted to share this part of my story through mentoring as well.
4word: And we are delighted to have you volunteering your time to mentor our 4word Dallas women! Thanks, Dawn.
So what about you ladies? How have you dealt with less-than-ideal circumstances at work? What lessons have you learned as a result? Leave us a comment and let us know.