Survey: One in Five Women Has Never Had a Mentor

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Are American women missing out on mentorship opportunities? According to a new study from LinkedIn, the answer is yes — and it could be affecting their careers.  

Let’s face it, in today’s job market, women (and men too, we suppose) can use all the help they can get. We all know that it’s tough out there for job-seekers, but there’s one tried-and-true method to finding your next great professional opportunity — and that’s through networking.

Perhaps that’s why the latest study from professional networking site LinkedIn is so shocking. Out of 1,000 women surveyed throughout the U.S., one in five admitted to never having a mentor, despite the fact that 82% of respondents agreed that mentoring is important for career advancement.

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“Tooting your own horn is just one of the many ways you can increase the likelihood that you’ll shatter the glass ceiling and snag keys to that corner office,” Nicole Williams, LinkedIn Connection Director, said at the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference, where the survey results were revealed. “If you’re uncomfortable speaking up about your accomplishments, then often times, your best bet is to seek out a sponsor or a mentor in your office who can vouch for you.”

So why aren’t women lining up to find — and be — a mentor? According to the survey, 67% of women said they haven’t been a mentor to another woman because no one has ever asked, while more than half of respondents said they haven’t encountered someone appropriate to mentor them. Does anyone else see the disconnect here?

But there is some hope in the study’s findings. While only 34% of Boomers (that’s women between the ages of 45 and 66) said they were mentored by women, more than half of Gen Y women (ages 18 to 29) have had a female mentor. Hey, it’s a start.

Erin Skarda is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ErinLeighSkarda. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

SPECIAL: The State of American Women

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