Analysis: Don't let the Petraeus affair keep men from mentoring women

AP file photo

Thanks, David. Thanks, Paula. Your dalliance wreaked havoc on national security, top government agencies, and at least two families. Now, as shown by a recent headline at Forbes questioning the "danger of male mentors," your untoward affair casts further doubts on opposite-sex mentoring relationships, which for most women are a necessity for professional advancement. As if such associations weren't already laden with enough fear and suspicion, this unease will likely increase now that longtime concerns about the too-cozy mentoring by former General Petraeus of his adoring biographer turned out to be well-founded.

Yet, as Jenna Goudreau states starkly in the Forbes article, "Women need powerful mentors to succeed. The majority of powerful leaders continue to be men."

This has been true in my career. I cannot begin to measure how much of who I am professionally is owed to male mentors, men in leadership positions who went out of their way to identify and cultivate in me latent qualities I was unaware I had: from the pastor who suggested I act as spokesperson of an activist organization when I had no real public speaking skills, to the headmaster who asked me after one year of teaching in his school to become its principal, to the professor who took me to lunch during my first overwhelming semester of graduate school and ended up being director of my doctoral dissertation, to the college dean who encouraged me to take my current position as department chair and empowered and supported me in that role in every way.

Read the rest at 


Karen Swallow Prior is professor of English and chair of the English and modern languages department at Liberty University. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.