In 1973, the idea of the Queen Bee Syndrome at the workplace was first put forth. This Queen Bee would typically be the most successful woman in the workplace; someone who didnt want to be toppled from the top spot by other women, seeing them as threats rather than allies. Her behaviour towards other women in the workplace would be stand-offish, harsh, and conniving. Adding garnish to this so-called scientific theory, were pop culture references in the form of books and movies. Remember, The Devil Wears Prada? Evil boss Miranda Priestly treats her female assistants like scum, and they somehow put up with it.However, after two decades of study at Columbia University by 1,500 companies, it was found that the Queen Bee Syndrome is indeed a myth, one which suits men more than women, to keep female representation as far away from the boardroom as possible and hold onto every last vestige of control. Instead, women are actually great mentors, who want to see more of their kind at the workplace, and have no qualms about helping other women get there.When women help other women at work, there is a ripple effect and we are able to collectively succeed, says Pune-based Jayapriya Sukumar, HR and Diversity Hiring Manager at a boutique software firm. This means higher pay for all women across the board, more promotions, better policies in place, and overall career advancement opportunities. Id like to point out though, that men do not mentor other men and no one really has a problem with it. Its not an expectation at all. Why dont the same rules apply to women, then? Simply because women need that extra leg up and all the support and representation they can get - especially when factors like childbirth and parenting enter the equation. As someone who has seen the way workplaces function, the single most common reason women are not able to mentor other women isnt insecurity or even lack of interest. It simply boils down to the paucity of time. Given everything else that theyre already juggling, unless a mentorship programme is factored into their role and time spent at work, it is unfair to expect them to take on that extra workload in a committed or formal way. Despite this, I still find women extremely generous with their time and experience, ready to lend whatever support they can to others who need it. But companies really need to come on board in a structured manner and start proper mentorship programmes. This involves getting both the mentor and mentees to ensure a couple of hours spent every week within working hours.Theres no denying that female mentorship can make or break careers. Take, for instance, Oprah Winfrey. Self-made, indeed. But she self-admittedly owes a lot of her success to her mentor, author, poet, and activist Maya Angelou, who took Oprah under her wing and guided her through some of the most formative years of her life and career. Viola Davis has also said that Meryl Streep has unwittingly inspired and mentored her with sheer encouragement and advice throughout her career.Being a mentor at the workplace is fulfilling and challenging in equal measure. Firstly, it is a role that requires time and commitment. People confuse mentorship with the role of a boss. While it is possible to have a boss who is also a mentor, the two are quite different, says Hyderbad-based Ratika George, team leader at a sustainable energy company. A boss instructs and runs a well-oiled team, and their primary aim is to ensure work-related goals are met. A mentor, on the other hand, is someone who helps you realise your full potential in an individual capacity. This could be through sharing their own life experiences, providing motivation and guidance, offering emotional support, helping mentees understand their own purpose and goals, and honing skills to help them get ahead in both life and career. A mentors role is more personal, and requires understanding, patience, and confidentiality.According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center across 19 countries and 30 industries, 63 per cent of women have never had a formal mentor. This is primarily because companies do not see value in mentoring programmes for them. However, 3 out of every 4 women whose companies did offer a mentoring programme, always jumped at the opportunity with open arms! Development Dimensions International went on to publish the results of their Diversity Inclusion study, which stated that men were 22 per cent more likely to be assigned a formal mentor than women, and 13 per cent more likely to have received leadership training skills. These biases are both conscious and unconscious, but the end result is that women in the workforce dont get mentorship opportunities or the ensuing career growth.Says George, I find that women sometimes lack confidence about their abilities to be a mentor, although this trend is shifting with younger millennials and Gen Z-ers in urban India. This holds them back from reaching their full potential as mentors. Women mentees or protegees are also hesitant to advocate for themselves, and often do not talk about their challenges and the gaps theyre looking to fill they worry that it will be perceived as incompetence. Both women mentors and mentees have to be honest with one another and keep lines of communication open. It also needs to be a safe space for both, with a basic understanding of shared goals in place.When youre in a position of power or privilege at work, lifting other women and championing their growth can go a long way. If you have already paved the way, be generous in bringing others to walk the same path with you as well, or even forge their own somewhere along the road. Along with confidence, knowledge, and self-awareness, youll also be teaching them generosity and how to pass it on to the next generation of women who need mentorship, moving one step closer towards an equitable workplace.