How do women rank today in leadership roles? The statistics, although an improvement on previous decades, certainly do not favor women. Of 197 heads of state, only twenty-two are women. They hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally, and in the world of big business, a meager eighteen of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Warren Buffet says that one of the reasons he has been so successful as an investor is that he "only had to compete with half the population." Thirty years after women achieved 50% of the college degrees in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry - and let's not even talk about organized religion and the male leadership bias there!

ROI on Talent wanted to know "Why? - so we conducted a LinkedIn Online Poll to get the opinion of over 200 women and men global business leaders on this important issue. The results were surprising. While 22% of respondents selected "Fair Wages vs. Men" and 26% chose "Discrimination (Of Any Kind)", a full 35% said they thought "Meaningful Mentoring from Other Women" is the biggest single issue that women in business face today. Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and in pay and the answer will be a resounding "Yes!" But ask the same women whether they'd feel confident asking for a job, a raise or a promotion and reticence creeps in - there is little precedent for women taking such actions on behalf of themselves.

There has been much recently written on this subject following International Women's Day on March 8th. Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's energetic and gutsy COO, recommends women to "lean in", be noticed and have a voice at the conference room table rather than just filling a seat at the side. So what's keeping women from doing so? Who are their role models? And how do women make a difference in their careers for themselves and others?

Apparently, "Meaningful Mentoring from Other Women", while a desirable behavior, isn't happening in the work place. In Dr. Peggy Drexler's Wall Street Journal article, "The Tyranny of The Queen Bee" she says, "women who reached positions of power were supposed to be mentors to those who followed but something is amiss in the professional sisterhood."  A 2011 survey of 1,000 working women by the AMA found that 95% believed another woman at some point in their careers undermined them.

So, if successful businesswomen won't (or can't) mentor other, oftentimes younger and less experienced women on the job, where does an aspiring female executive go for coaching? There are certainly a number of successful male mentors who are not gender biased inside organizations and also outside executive coaches, both male and female, to tap. Sandberg suggests seeking out "Community, Education and Circles" to do so - such as women-led business organizations like the NAPW - or even create networking groups to stay connected. She says, "Women underestimate their own capabilities and don't negotiate well for themselves. "Her message: 1) Get a seat at the table. 2) Make your partner a real partner - at home and at work. 3) Don't leave before you leave - meaning don't plan your career on life choices like starting a family too early and take yourself out of contention for a top position.

If women want the corner office, there may be some unconventional approaches to secure career advancement to get there. Most likely, these steps will need to go beyond seeking out successful women at work. Sheryl Sandberg has Larry Summers, former Treasury Secretary, as her mentor. Who's yours? We'd like to know.