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Hacking through the Gordian Knot: can facilitating operational mentoring untangle the gender research productivity puzzle in higher education?In spite of a number of drivers for change in the pursuit of gender equality in higher education in the UK and beyond, the gender gap in research activity is still widely recognised across most subject disciplines. Over recent years, mentoring strategies have often been seen as the Alexandrian sword capable of cutting the gender deficit ‘Gordian Knot’. However, analysis of current practice and dialogue points to a lack of a consistent approach in addressing and implementing HE policy in this area with many initiatives providing standardised non-evidence-based provision aimed at addressing an alleged confidence deficit and exhausting an already fatigued group of successful senior women. This paper seeks to triangulate existing literature with an analysis of data collected from a funded UK-based research project ultimately proposing a five-step institutional mentoring approach aimed at providing some inroads into alleviating the gender deficit in research productivity in the academy.