"I use different mentors for different things," Brouwer said. Some might be executive sponsors, while others might have a special skill that she would like to acquire. "I have shifted a lot of mentors over time," she said.
Mentoring can be especially useful in organizations where the women are not organized into any groups or have any sort of interaction with each other, added Michelle Malcher, a database team lead at DRW.
"We condition others in how you want them to look at us," Brouwer said, "It's in what we say 'yes' to and what we say 'no' to.
Such advice comes at a time when the number of women in IT appears to be rapidly dwindling . According to the National Center for Women & IT, in 2009, only 25% of U.S IT professionals were women, compared to 36% in 1991.
Just 18% of college degrees awarded in computer and information sciences in 2008 went to women, which is less than half compared to 1985.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com .
Read more about management and careers in Computerworld's Management and Careers Topic Center.