Speaking of Mentors: You Also Need Sponsors

I did make an LOL cat for today's retread

The past 24 hours featured a great deal of stress and little sleep. The book review on tap for today is not going to happen.

Since we were on the topic of mentors, and the potential for over-mentoring, a previous post from one of my other sites came to mind. Enjoy!

And hope I get some sleep tonight.

This post originally appeared August 25, 2010, on PascaleLane's Stream of Thought:

The September [2010] issue of Harvard Business Review includes a fascinating article by Ibarra, Carter, and Silva examining the reasons women still do not achieve as much as men. “Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women” identifies differences in the types of “grooming” that the genders receive, and the gaps that keep women from breaking through all of those glass ceilings.

One of the quotes in the first paragraph really hit home with me:

Now I am being mentored to death.

My former chair identified me as someone with leadership potential over a decade ago. He connected me with a variety of development opportunities; ultimately, I felt “developed.” Now I lead one of the faculty leadership courses for my institution. We encourage participants to learn about themselves and to identify mentors both within and outside of our academic home. We are beginning to examine achievement several years later, and a question persists: Why do men seem to do so much better than women, even after the same opportunities?

According to  a 2008 Catalyst survey, 83% of women and 76% of men reported having at least one mentor during their career, yet only 65% of the women (compared with 72% of men) were promoted by the 2010 follow-up date. If mentoring is the key to success, why aren’t these women succeeding?

Turns out, the mentors differ. Men were more likely to be mentored by a senior executive (78% vs 69%), one with the organizational power to advocate their advisee as someone ready and worthy of taking the next step. The authors’ go on to differentiate between mentors and sponsors. Mentors provide emotional support, feedback , and other advice. They serve as role models, and assist their charges with institutional politics. Their focus is generally on personal and professional development with increased sense of competence and self-worth. Mentoring provides satisfaction; sponsorship is a necessity, though.

Sponsors must be senior leaders in good standing who can provide connections within the institution to facilitate promotion. A sponsor will assist their advisee in attaining opportunities and assignments, as well as protecting them from negative situations. Most important, a sponsor will fight for promotion of their people.

The senior management with the power and connections to make good sponsors are, unfortunately, overwhelmingly male. Such high-achievers often lack the sensibilities of a mentor, and throwing in the potential pitfalls in relationships (or perceptions thereof) between senior males and junior women, well, you can see why this relationship can be difficult.

So how can women get sponsors? Institutions interested in promoting high-potential women must establish sponsorship for them. The involved parties must be clear on the relationship; promotion is the goal! Such efforts cannot circumvent the woman’s current boss and job responsibilities, nor should mentorship be completely ignored. The leaders may also need to consider their own views on gender issues; women still have trouble navigating “the fine line between being ‘not aggressive enough’ or ‘lacking in presence’ and being ‘too aggressive’ or ‘too controlling’.”

What happens if a high-potential woman does not get appropriate sponsorship within her institution? In this study, at least, she leaves:

At Deutsche Bank, for example, internal research revealed that female managing directors who left the firm to work for competitors were not doing so to improve their work/life balance. Rather, they’d been offered bigger jobs externally, ones they weren’t considered for internally.

One of the development opportunities provided for me, the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program for women, included a bunch of structured interviews. Participants had to meet the dean and all sorts of C-suite officials for their institution. At the time, I found this activity useful because once I have met a person I feel pretty comfortable contacting them again. In light of this article, the activity provided another benefit- it put me on the radar of the people at my place of employment as someone with the potential to move up in the organization. I did not achieve true “sponsorship,” but if I were to do this again, that would be on the list.

One response so far

You Know You Want It...

Mar 01 2012 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

I have finally recovered officially from my stomach bug, tested at a local Mexican eating establishment last night with salsa and margaritas.  I have done actual science in the last 24 hours, and I have caught up on some other stuff.

The big news today is over at Academic Women for Equality Now, my Vision2020 project. I finally have the Female Faculty Friendliness Grade Cards for every US College of Medicine compiled into a single document, along with a bunch of the supporting data and analyses. This material originally appeared as a series of posts over 4 months. Now, you can more easily compare medical colleges by region, by type of position, you name it.

Unfortunately, the size of the document exceeds that of the upload capacity of my site (for now). I have a work-around, as you will see on the site.

Go ahead, click on over and get the PDF...you know you want it...

I am still looking for collaborators on the site: guest posts, people with other data sets to analyze, etc. If it deals even remotely with gender in the Ivory Tower, I will welcome your participation. Drop me a line!

No responses yet

Check Her Out

Dec 19 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

I have blogged about Academic Women for Equality Now, my project for Vision 2020. As part of this project, I will be interviewing women of note in academia or who have things to say that affect us in some way. I am proud to start this series with Page Morahan, PhD, a successful microbiologist and former department chair who gave all that up to be founding director for the ELAM program for women leaders in medicine, dentistry, and public health. Click on over and enjoy her perspectives on what she has accomplished and what she plans to do (hint: she's not done improving the world for women).

In the meantime, if you know someone AWEnow should interview, make a suggestion in the comments or drop me an email to mail (at) awenow dot org.

No responses yet

Problem Defined, but Cause Unknown

Oct 19 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine, Women in Science

So last week I gathered in Chicago with a group of accomplished women who make me feel positively small. Such awesomeness rarely gathers in this large of a group; some of these women even wore snazzier shoes than I did.

We slogged through the work of Vision2020's Second Congress. We all agreed on major strategies for the five national goals, especially the need to communicate problems of inequality. We also agreed that, in many cases, we still need to understand the root causes of inequality. Why do women earn a mere 77 cents for every dollar a man gets, a pay gap that increases with educational level? Why do women leave the workplace before they achieve senior leadership positions?

Over at Academic Women for Equality Now,  I examined the "leaky" pipeline question today. There can no longer be a question that women leave corporate and academic worlds before retirement; the question now becomes the why. Three things have been suggested:

  1. Work-life balance makes mid-career women "choose" to step onto the mommy track, which may also be the elderly parent track
  2. As women evaluate themselves in middle life, they leave to follow their passions
  3. After years of subtle, perhaps unconscious, bias and a few bumps on the glass ceiling, women may take their toys to a sandbox they control

I am sure all of these influence women's choices. I am curious what you believe is the most important reason women leave their career path in mid life. Are there any other reasons they might choose to become a consultant or open a cupcake shop? What have we missed?

12 responses so far

Yes, It Is Friday

Oct 14 2011 Published by under Travel, Wackaloonacy

So my live tweeting from Vision2020 was suppressed by our basement location. The events this week focused on working. Last year we conversed and defined the problems women still face in the US. This year we moved toward solutions.

Since no trip goes unpunished, I returned to the office this morning with a bit of trepidation. My assistant greeted me and then asked to copy my driver's license. As I handed it to her, she explained that the hospital wanted a copy of a government-issued ID. We had sent one of my US passport, but the office clerk in the credentials center did not realize that was "government-issued." It was easier to send a copy of my license than argue.


Next week I will discuss my times in Chicago here and at AWEnow (the project I am doing for Vision2020). In the meantime, try to have a great weekend. And consider giving to DonorsChoose.

2 responses so far

Tying Up Loose Ends

Oct 10 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

Click to enlarge

Tomorrow I hit the road (more accurately the sky) for the second Vision2020 Congress in Chicago. Last year's event featured a lot of talk about the lack of women leaders in many areas of US life. This year promises more work. We delegates all started action projects in the past 12 months, and we will gather in groups to contemplate our own work and the national goals of the Congress:

  1. Achieve pay equity, so that equal pay for equal work will be the norm in America
  2. Increase the number of women in senior leadership positions in American life to reflect the workforce talent pool and demographics
  3. Educate employers about the value of policies and practices that enable men and women to share fairly their family responsibilities
  4. Educate new generations of girls and boys to respect their differences and to act on the belief that America is at its best when leadership is shared and opportunities are open to all
  5. Mobilize women in America to vote, with particular emphasis on a record-setting turnout in 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment

I will live-tweet the events of the Congress; follow @EqualityInSight, the official twitter account for the program for more accounts of the action.

Today I am tying up loose ends. I will get in a work-out before I pack. Most important, I will overnight all the signed and notarized forms for the sale of the old homestead. Yes, we will finally be down to a single house!

Enjoy your week, and please consider giving to my DonorsChoose page. It's heartbreaking that teachers must ask for our support for pencils, chairs, whiteboards, and other basics.

No responses yet

No New Answers Here

Sep 08 2011 Published by under Women as leaders

Click for source

Are you interested in women as leaders? Then you should know about The Glass Hammer, a website about women in business with a weekly email of new interviews and topics. The email newsletter arrived today, and one piece regarding a meta-analysis of women as leaders caught my eye. Are Leader Stereotypes Masculine? A Meta-Analysis of Three Research Paradigms is in the July issue of the Psychological Bulletin.

 The summary of the work refers to Catch-22, a classic no-win situation (glad Heller wrote the book so we have something elegant to call it):

The study also found that women are viewed as less qualified in most leadership roles and when women adopt culturally masculine behaviors often required by these roles, such as being assertive or aggressive, they are viewed as inappropriate or presumptuous.

So women may not be considered as leaders because they are "too nice to do the work", but when they show leadership traits they become bitches and are still undesireable.

One of the authors, Alice Eagly, professor of psychology at Northwestern, discusses how we may start to reverse bias like this:

  • Make people aware of the potential bias that leads to this discrimination, overtly or unconsciously
  • Women must be extra-qualified to seem as capable as a man because leadership is stereotypically male

 So be twice as qualified to be seen as legitimate? Then have someone else suggest that the (mostly male) folks in charge of promotions may be biased against women and that constitutes discrimination? I mean, you can't say it yourself because then you are an assertive (castrating) bitch who no one will tolerate as their leader!

Sigh. No easy answers here.

7 responses so far

Greetings on Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2011 Published by under Feminist Musings

Click for source

On 26 August 1920, the 19th amendment to the US Constitution passed, granting the right to vote to female citizens. Our foremothers worked hard to achieve this measure of equality, and I appreciate their efforts and sacrifices.

Unfortunately, our progress toward equality has stalled. Today, women average less than 80% of what men are paid for similar work, and women remain underrepresented in leadership positions at every level.

Join me in working toward true equality. Read about Vision 2020. Sign the Declaration of Equality and consider making a donation to the cause.

No responses yet

So Click Already...

May 26 2011 Published by under Women in Medicine

Women now earn more higher degrees than men, and make up virtually half of graduating MDs in the US. My own specialty, pediatrics, has been dominated by XXs for several years.

Click for source

So why does medical school leadership still look so XY? Even in pediatrics, faculty appear male-dominated. Faculty leadership still consists of an old boys' club.

As my project for Vision 2020, I developed Academic Women for Equality Now (AWEnow!), a website dedicated to exploring gender issues in academia. At the moment, I am AWEnow! (a situation I hope to correct now by finding some like-minded women in other fields), so the posts focus on academic medicine.

This week saw the start of a series of posts with report cards for each college granting MDs in the US and its territories. The first dealt with incompletes, five schools that reported no full professors in the AAMC benchmarking report for 2009-2010. Yesterday, the top ten got their day on the web. This morning, the bottom ten went up.

Over the coming weeks, every reporting institution will have its data shown against the national averages. The information used to calculate scores was self-reported by institutions to the AAMC in 2009 and used to generate Women in Academic Medicine: Statistics and Benchmarking Report 2009-2010 . These data have been available to faculty at AAMC member colleges for years, but information for each individual medical school was limited to tables. I have taken these data and put them into a single document to show more clearly where each school stands. Schools can use these to improve themselves and the data they submit. Potential students (and faculty members) can see where women stand at each school of medicine.

So click over there already. I know you're dying to see the bottom ten (and feel smug about your superiority to Harvard on at least one measure of institutional achievement).

If you are interested in working on expanding AWEnow! to other fields (science and engineering come to mind) you can make contact via the form at the AWEnow! site or even email me at pascalelane at gmail dot com.

Because sexism and inequality at any level are just wrong.

No responses yet

Joining My Rant

May 18 2011 Published by under [Education&Careers], Feminist Musings

Today Little Pink Book, a website devoted to issues of women in the workplace, posted on gender bias in higher education. Even though women now receive more degrees than men, they represent only 26% of faculty:

Experts say the low presence of women leaders is due to gender bias. Even when women do balance home and work responsibilities, they still earn lower salaries. They also gain fewer recognition awards and are promoted less.

What else can schools do to attract more female instructors? “[Women] need a mentor, a game plan for meeting specific steps toward tenure, outside support from friends and family, and above all – persistence,” suggests Wenniger, adding that men are currently twice as likely to receive tenure.

These issues led to my other web site, Academic Women for Equality Now (awenow.org). There we explore issues of women in higher education, particularly academic medicine since that is my field and rich, longitudinal data have been collected by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Since its launch on March 28, the 2011 edition of the AAMC report, using data collected in 2009, became available. Several recent posts have examined the level of female participation in medical college leadership at the level of the dean and department, as well as representation as full professors (check out the post on May 19). An overall "Female Friendliness" score was generated for each institution as well, and individual gradecards for each college of medicine providing data will begin appearing next week.

I am delighted to see Little Pink Book joining my rant. I would love to find other women who want to explore these issues for other fields in higher education. The first step in fixing a problem requires defining the problem and what success would look like. Many institutions will be surprised to see how poorly women are represented in their ranks.

Stroll (by which I mean click) on over to the Little Pink Book piece and AWEnow. Let's work to make life in the ivory tower more balanced.


No responses yet

« Newer posts Older posts »