Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichart of Kenexa High Performance Institute (KHPI), a subsidiary of IBM, proposed a model of women’s career development that focuses on:

  • The individual
  • The immediate work environment
  • The organizational context

She identified four behaviors that individuals can execute to increase the likelihood of career advancement:

  • Career planning 
  • Opportunity-seeking, Negotiation
  • Career-building networking; Mentoring-Sponsorship     
  • Skillful self-promotion
Ralph Turner

Ralph Turner

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Within the domain of Career Planning, Ralph Turner, then of UCLA, proposed two ways that people advance their careers based on measures of promotions obtained and progression in the organizational hierarchy:

  • Contest Pathway is an open, merit-based system that enables career advancement by evaluating past accomplishments and impact

    Kenexa Career Progression Pathways- Contest and Sponsorship

    Kenexa Career Progression Pathways- Contest and Sponsorship

  • Sponsorship Pathway is a closed system in which candidates for advancement are chosen by senior leaders based “promotability” or “future potential“ to undertake and excel in future challenges
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

More than a century and a half ago, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow anticipated this distinction between the the contest and sponsorship pathways when he proposed how people assess  their performance:
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

Thomas Ng

Thomas Ng

Lillian Eby

Lillian Eby

More recent work by Thomas Ng and Kelly Sorensen, then of University of Georgia with their colleagues Lillian Eby and Daniel Feldman, found that women excel in the Contest Pathway, which requires:

Daniel Feldman

Daniel Feldman

  • Initiative
  • Risk-taking
  • Perseverance  
Amy Hurley Hanson

Amy Hurley Hanson

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

In contrast, Amy Hurley-Hanson of Chapman University and Yale’s Jeffrey Sonnenfeld  as well as Cranfield’s Susan Vinnicombe and Val Singh found that men tend to excel in the Sponsorship Pathway, based on:

Susan Vinnicombe

Susan Vinnicombe

  • Val Singh

    Val Singh

    Skillful networking

  • Visibility
  • Reputation for delivering outstanding results
  • Promoting accomplishments  
Philip Roth

Philip Roth

Philip Bobko

Philip Bobko

Another reason that women are not part of the Sponsorship Pathway as frequently as men is that women are less likely to be viewed as “promotable” even though men and women are rated equally effective as leaders, according to findings by Philip Roth of Clemson University, Kristen Purvis then of Cornell University, Philip Bobko of Gettysburg College.

  • How have you seen the Contest Pathway and the Sponsorship Pathway operate in your career advancement?
  • How do you “actively manage” your career toward advancement in the Contest Pathway or the Sponsorship Pathway?

Next: Women’s Career Development Model – Part 2 of 2Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion

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©Kathryn Welds

3 thoughts on “Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2

    1. kathrynwelds Post author

      Thank you, Jennifer, for taking time to comment.

      These two articles summarize the framework used to organize Cisco’s recent Women in Technology Forum Career Panel, featuring five executives: Laura Grams as moderator, with Afsaneh Laidlaw, VP of Engineering, Sridevi Koneru Rao, Director of Business Development in Cisco Services, Lance Perry, VP of IT, and Colin S Kincaid, VP of Product Management in Network Operating Systems Technology Group.

      *Kathryn Welds* welds@post.harvard.edu 650 740 0763 *LinkedIn | **Blog **|**Google+ ** |Twitter@kathrynwelds **| Facebook notes *

      On Sun, Apr 7, 2013 at 12:14 PM, Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and

      Reply
  1. Pingback: Have You Agreed to Every Bad Deal You’ve Gotten? | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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