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Women in the Workplace: Over-Mentored and Under-Sponsored

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By Phyllis Korkki (Contributing Writer, The New York Times)

A rich source of female talent exists just below top management, says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, a research organization.

But women have become stuck in this layer because they tend to lack a sponsor at the top to advocate for them.

Sponsors are different from mentors, who lend friendly advice and allow workers to share their quandaries and challenges. Sponsors make a direct bet on the promotion of their protégés, putting their own careers on the line by doing so. That can be risky, so such relationships demand a high level of trust.

”Women tend to be overmentored and undersponsored,” says Ms. Hewlett, who has done research to find out why.

One reason is that women are more uncomfortable using their work friendships to land a deal or to join a team, she says. For men, those kinds of interactions tend to be second nature.

Women tend to put their heads down, do great work and praise others in their department while modestly omitting their own contributions, Ms. Klaus says. “Then they get really angry,” she says, “when they get passed over for the bonus and the promotion.”

As Ms. Hewlett put it, “Women have this extraordinary faith in the meritocracy,” and this can carry them through at lower levels. But they need more if they are going to push through to the very top.

» Read the full interview at The New York Times.

  • http://www.theathenanetwork.com Zsa Zsa

    Some interesting points raised here. Women do lack sponsors — we already have so many mentors, and continue to find women who are either willing to be one or to be mentored!