4 Reasons Women Say No to Leadership

Serious businesswoman holding up hand in stop signalPLUS: Politics vs. performance.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Many women are uncomfortable calling attention to their achievements and ambitions, dislike politics, have difficulty asking others for a career boost or underestimate the importance of powerful backers. That makes it harder for potential sponsors to recognize how worthy these women are of their support.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Women Fight ‘Kids First’ Perception | Women Judged on Performance, Men on Potential | 3 Ways Women Benefit When Seen as Leaders | Being the Best Means Including Women

Some women hurt their own chances for sponsorship by failing to let sponsors know what they want and why they merit it. Sponsors are drawn to star performers who display confidence and a drive to succeed. Where a man might insist he is the right person for a job and asks to be promoted, a woman who is equally or even better qualified may downplay her qualifications for the job. Instead of aggressively pursuing promotions and opportunities, she waits to be asked, and then, when asked, may turn the offer down. Why?
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Women Fight ‘Kids First’ Perception

Mother and daughterBias persists that work will suffer.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

One pattern of gender bias is exhibiting “maternal wall” bias, which leads people to believe that women with children are unable to meet the demands of leadership.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Women Judged on Performance, Men on Potential | Fix Gender Bias at Your Firm | Sponsor or Mentor? | Being the Best Means Including Women

People assume that women with children are less committed to their work.
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Women Judged on Performance, Men on Potential

Businessman and businesswoman standing back to backIt's the 21st century and the standards still differ.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Common patterns of gender bias include holding women to higher standards than men and expressing contradictory expectations (“double binds”) for women.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Fix Gender Bias at Your Firm | 3 Changes for Men to Make | 3 Ways Women Benefit When Seen as Leaders | Sponsor or Mentor? | 4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders | Being the Best Means Including Women

Different standards: People expect more of women than of men and they hold women to higher standards. This sets the bar higher for women who aspire to leadership and makes it more difficult for them to prove their value to the organization, even though research shows that women outperform men in 17 of 67 critical leadership skills, while men outperform women in only four.
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Fix Gender Bias at Your Firm

Businesswoman opens door to brick wall5 ways women get shoved aside.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Gender bias reflects entrenched beliefs and assumptions about women based on stereotypes about appropriate roles and behaviors for women.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 3 Changes for Men to Make | 3 Ways Women Benefit When Seen as Leaders | Sponsor or Mentor? | 4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders | Being the Best Means Including Women

Unconscious thoughts about the kinds of work women are and are not suited for, especially if they are mothers, remove highly qualified women from consideration for leadership opportunities and positions.
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3 Changes for Men to Make

Scrambled thoughts enter man's head, straightened ones come outHow they can start seeing women as leaders.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Let’s assume a powerful man works with two junior colleagues, a man and a woman, who are both equally talented, motivated and superbly skilled performers. According to what we know from research and experience, that powerful man is more likely to sponsor the man than the woman.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 3 Ways Women Benefit When Seen as Leaders | Sponsor or Mentor? | 4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders | Being the Best Means Including Women

Why is that? What factors go into a sponsor’s calculation about where to place his most active support and for whom to expend his political capital? And why don’t more women come across as “leadership material,” even when their talents and abilities should make them great candidates? I have some answers.
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3 Ways Women Benefit When Seen as Leaders

Young businesswoman and businessman talking in a hallwayThe advice is great, but they'd prefer being considered for a promotion.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

The benefits of sponsorship are indisputable. Having a highly placed sponsor is a distinct career advantage, and when competing for top positions it can be a critical differentiator.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Sponsor or Mentor? | 4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders | Being the Best Means Including Women

Protégées gain career-enhancing opportunities that others do not get, such as:
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Sponsor or Mentor?

Young businesswoman working at laptop while businessman looks onPlus 18 ways to boost your protégée.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

The practice of mentorship is well known and well established in today’s workplace. A mentor is someone who helps a more junior person learn, develop and achieve her professional goals.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders | Being the Best Means Including Women

Mentoring is the process by which the mentor and mentee work together to identify and help the mentee move toward those goals. But sponsorship is intended specifically to promote career advancement.
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4 Firm Benefits of Sponsoring Women as Leaders

Purple No. 4 billiard ballWomen leaders provide 6 advantages to the market and 9 benefits for their sponsors.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Most male leaders today under­stand how important it is to keep high-performing women in the pipeline and help them achieve their potential within the organization.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Being the Best Means Including Women | Not Mentoring, Sponsoring | How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image | How to Promote Your Protégée to Coworkers

These men are genuinely concerned about their firms’ inability to retain and advance the women they hire because having a substantial number of women leaders is a demonstrably significant benefit to the company, while a lack of gender diversity at the top of organizations can be very costly to the bottom line.
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Being the Best Means Including Women

3 women and 2 men standing in officeCPA firms need more women, and not just recruiting them for staff, but sponsoring them for leadership.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Smart accounting firm leaders want to be in the forefront of efforts to advance women.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: Not Mentoring, Sponsoring | 14 Ways to Keep Sex from Wrecking Something Great | How to Promote Your Protégée to Coworkers | Can You Afford to Be a Sponsor? | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders

As the global economy continues to become more competitive, firms need to use all the talent they can muster and more and more of that talent will be women.
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Not Mentoring, Sponsoring

business man and woman reading news in magazine6 questions to evaluate candidates.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

Sponsorship is a personal undertaking. A man who sponsors a woman takes it upon himself to advance her career. He puts his reputation on the line for her and tells the world she is worth it.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: How to Fight Flextime Saboteurs | How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image | How to Promote Your Protégée to Coworkers | 8 Steps to Guiding Your Protégée | 17 Ways to Follow Through on Sponsorship | How Protégées Can Help Sponsors

She still has to earn that promotion, but his solid, public vote of confidence – and the power he puts behind it – at least gives her a fair chance to get it.
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How to Fight Flextime Saboteurs

Businesswoman holding clock in front of her faceFlexible scheduling can benefit everyone, but some people don't see it that way.

By Ida O. Abbott
Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

A talented, ambitious woman who works less than full time or takes extended family leave is extremely vulnerable to being derailed professionally.

MORE ON SPONSORING WOMEN FOR LEADERSHIP: 14 Ways to Keep Sex from Wrecking Something Great | How to Help Your Protégée Project the Right Image | 17 Ways to Follow Through on Sponsorship | Beware Misunderstandings About Work Relationships | Fears of Innuendo, Gossip Impede Development | Women Must See Politics As Leadership | Why Some Women Resist Using Networks | Bias Persists Against Women with Children | Standards for Women Still Differ | 5 Ways Women Get Shoved Aside | Why Men Don’t See Women as Leaders | Thanks for the Advice, But I’d Really Prefer a Promotion | 18 Ways to Boost Your Protégée | Women Leaders Provide 6 Market Advantages | Why CPA Firms Need More Women | Beyond Mentoring to Sponsorship

Whether because she is “out of sight/out of mind,” or because people doubt her commitment, she may be disregarded for promotions or high-profile projects.
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