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
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
- 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
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.”
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:
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:
- Reputation for delivering outstanding results
- Promoting accomplishments
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 2 – Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion
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