If you work in an organization, you gave tacit agreement to participate in a Workplace Tournament, according to (Olivia) Mandy O’Neill of Wharton and Charles O’Reilly of Stanford.
They contend that careers unfold as a series of tournaments in which employees at lower levels compete with each other for career advancement.
The prevalence of implicit workplace contests was validated in O’Reilly’s study of executive pay with University of Edinburgh’s Brian G M Main and James Wade, now of Emory University.
“Winners” in the contest for advancement shared two characteristics in O’Neill and O’Reilly’s study MBA graduates’ incomes over an eight-year period, as an indicator of career advancement.
Those with highest incomes four years after graduation said they prefer “masculine” organizational culture — and this relationship was stronger for women than men.
Eight years after graduation, men’s salaries were significantly higher than women’s, attributable to the greater number of hours men worked per week.
During this period, women MBA graduates may take time off or reduce the number of hours work to care for children or relatives, whereas this “off-ramp” pattern is rarer for men.
One non-MBA new mother whose income has not suffered is Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. In 2012, she took two weeks for parental leave, and her total compensation for the year was $36.6 Million.
Organizational hierarchies dominated by men were preferred by high-earners, and were associated with women advancing less frequently than men into lower and middle management, according to Phyllis Tharenou, now of Flinders University.
She found that employees with managerial aspirations and masculine preferences were more likely to advance in management roles, but these effects were offset by “career encouragement” such as mentoring and structured career development programs.
With Denise Conroy, Queensland Technology University, Tharenou studied more than 600 female and more than 600 male managers across six organizational levels.
They found that the work situation’s development opportunities and structure were most associated with women’s and men’s managerial advancement, suggesting that structural, policy and program changes can increase the number of women in top leadership roles.
As mentioned in an earlier post, Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2, women tend to excel in explicit workplace contests, such as in public sector jobs.
In contrast, women have traditionally had less experience earning and capitalizing on organizational “sponsorship” by advocates for their advancement, and as a result, have less success in sponsorship-based organizations.
Taken together, these studies suggest that women can improve opportunities for advancement by
- Accepting that advancement is a tournament
- Behaving like a strategic competitor
- Acknowledging interest in advancement
- Seeking employment in organizations with formal career advancement programs like mentoring and development training
- Seeking employment in organizations that support flexible work practices and use technology to enable employees; work “anytime, anywhere”
- Becoming comfortable operating in “masculine” organizations
- Identifying social support inside organizations
- Seeking and cultivating advocates and sponsors when offered-*How do you manage workplace “tournaments” for career advancement?
- Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion – Part 2 of 2
- Four Career Trajectories: Linear, Expert, Spiral, Transitory
- Silicon Valley Executive Recruiter’s Advice for Getting to the Top
- Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office?
- Perseverance Increases Skill Increases Luck: “The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get”
- Developing “Big 8″ Job Competencies
- Will the ROWE Revolution Reach Yahoo? Results-Only Work Environments, Productivity, and Employee Engagement
- “The Motherhood Penalty” in the Workplace