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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Ida O. Abbott



About the Author

Ida O. Abbott has long been recognized as a leader in the fields of mentoring, leadership development and professional development.

Abbott is the author of Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know

For many years, Ida has been at the forefront of efforts to promote women in the professions. She is co-founder of the Hastings Leadership Academy for Women at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where she is also a Faculty Fellow.

She is on the Advisory Board of the New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation and operates the Roundtable for Women Leaders. Ida is a member of the Executive Committee for the National Legal Mentoring Consortium, Advisor to the Institute of Mentoring and Special Advisor to the International Bar Association Law Firm Mentoring Program.

She is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. Before starting her consulting firm, Ida practiced law for 20 years. She specialized in complex litigation at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, where she also ran the firm’s professional development and pro bono programs. Ida received her J.D. from Hastings College of the Law, M.A. from the University of Miami, and A.B. from Smith College. Ida is the author of several books and publications, including Women on Top: The Woman’s Guide to Leadership and Power in Law Firms and The Lawyer’s Guide to Mentoring.

Click here for more by Ida O. Abbott