There is an interesting aspect to gender "equality", if we forget for a moment that it's actually the differences that make things interesting and add complementary qualities, and see it as a purely functional concept, meaning equal pay, equal rights, etc:
Generally, men help other men all the time.
That's what all their secret and not so secret societies are for.
Generally, women don't tend to help other women but aim to tear each other down in competition for men, jobs, attention etc. Nowadays, that's oftentimes more clandestine than it used to be. It is a generalization, of course, but I think most women will recognize this as a pretty well-known concept.
But it gets worse.
If a woman seeks help from a man, knowing that women are unlikely allies, then it becomes an issue of political correctness... It is not just that the man who is willing to help risks angering his brotherhood, he also risks getting labeled by the women, he risks his reputation or even being sued, even in cases where there is no physical attraction but simply friendship. If there is physical attraction as well, in addition to genuine love and friendship and a desire to help - all good things by the way - woe be it for both!
Women really know how to make their lives difficult and make sure that gender inequality persists.
I can't tell you how many times I thought about taking a powerful, resourceful potential male mentor out for coffee or dinner - just like my male peers tend to do to advance their careers - knowing he could help me in my career and that he was likely willing to help, but I didn't because I thought it could look "fishy". The last time I actually did ask someone for lunch over a year ago (because he just happened to have the skills I lack and because we used to work together and had a good business relationship), but with a long, somewhat embarrassing explanation that I was choosing the restaurant because of "x", but would be happy to go somewhere else, if he was uncomfortable with it, and assuring him that I was looking for professional advice only and not hitting on him, putting it in writing so he could show it to the wife, his colleagues, HR, jealous female co-workers, and whoever else wants to have a say.
None of my male co-workers has to make such a song and dance about taking out a potential mentor out for lunch.
Men still have most of the power. They have access to most of the information, and most of the resources. They also think in a different way, which is why they have been more successful in worldly matters, not just in beating everyone up physically in the old times, but also in business, where physical prowess doesn't matter. That is not to say we don't have anything valuable to add, or that we can't lead, or that we can't be even more efficient and effective together - and some of us have proven that - but it's probably smart for us to learn their way of thinking as well. It's insane NOT to approach male mentors only because it may look bad. And you know what? Sometimes there may be physical attraction as well, JUST AS IT MAY BE BETWEEN MALES. Yet no gay or bisexual guy gets a problem taking out a potential male mentor for lunch. Somehow gender equality hasn't caught up here yet, and for once I am glad it hasn't.
Going for lunch is a separate relationship to the business relationship. A business dinner can be just for, yes, business. If two people are attracted and want to get it on, yes, they may use that lunch or dinner to connect, but they'll probably find a way to connect without lunch in some other form as well if they really want to. Both relationships, the business and the personal one, are separate relationships, people may switch between the two, but they are still separate.
So, why don't we relax the political correctness rules, and the gossip, and simply recognize that sometimes, a more experienced person can help a less experienced person, and sometimes one happens to be male, and the other female, and that's ok, instead of women perpetually shooting each other in the foot?
Terry Pratchett famously talked of the "crab bucket" in his books. Crabs are put into a bucket when they are caught, but sometimes, a crab manages to ALMOST climb out of the bucket to freedom, and to life, but just when freedom is in reach, other crabs hang on and pull her down again.
How about we get smart and cease being crabs, ladies? Yes, we can help each other up, too, but if a man wants to help, let him! Applaud him for it, even if he happens to be human! Maybe men then also lose the need to make exaggerated gestures to reject women, just to be safe. I can't tell you how many times I meet somebody senior who was male for the first time, and he immediately proceeds to tell me that he is married and how many children he has. Each time, I was thinking: "I really wasn't interested, darling, I didn't even have the time to look at you yet, it really isn't always all about that, even if it may be for you." His desire to protect himself actually added a sexual overtone to the conversation that I hadn't even thought of, but which I was then reminded of every time I saw him, making me super-sensitive to his actions.
Proximity is power. It is hard to achieve if you aren't allowed to have a casual one-to-one conversation with a senior co-worker, only because he happens to be male. It's not impossible, but why make things difficult?