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Webinar #6: Mentors and Sponsors

Although women researchers can benefit from both mentoring and sponsorship, we are likely to be more familiar with the mentor/mentee relationship, in which mentors act as role model, and provide support and guidance to their mentees.

In contrast, sponsorship involves the active and deliberative use of power (arising from one’s organisational position, professional standing, influence, connections, et cetera) to facilitate the careers of others. Not only do sponsors provide sponsees with advice, they also seek opportunities for the sponsee by connecting them with other senior leaders and publicly espousing the capabilities of their sponsees.

In the sixth webinar of the "Small Wins" series, we have invited Dr Jennifer de Vries, a gender researcher and strategist, to discuss sponsorship practices in academic careers and how women researchers can be sponsorship savvy.

She will be joined by two ARC Laureate Fellows, who will reflect on how to mentor and sponsor other women, as well as how to seek greater mentoring and sponsorship when needed: John Curtin Distinguished Professor Sharon K. Parker (Curtin University), host of the Women in Research "Small Wins" series; and Distinguished Professor Jie Lu (University of Technology Sydney).

Topics covered:

  • The important distinction between mentoring and sponsorship

  • How mentoring and sponsorship help to build a successful research career

  • The challenges of sponsorship for less linear careers (e.g. part-time, parental breaks)

  • How to obtain greater mentoring and sponsorship

Jen's tips on developing your sponsorship savvy: :

  1. Conduct a personal sponsorship scan.

  2. Observe and inquire.

  3. Seek sponsorship.

  4. Develop your sponsorship practices.

  5. Be a sponsorship advocate.

More on Jen's guide, Sponsorship: Creating Career Opportunities for Women in Higher Education. Download here.

Sharon's tips:

As a mentee or sponsee:

  1. Beware of the myth of the 'magical mentor'.

  2. 'Fortune favours the brave' - ask and be specific in what you ask.

  3. Honour any help you get.

  4. Adopt a broad learning perspective.

  5. Cultivate relationships, not just transactions.

As a mentor or sponsor:

  1. You can do it.

  2. It's also okay to say no.

  3. Think before you 'dump' your workload on your mentor or sponsee - will it benefit them?

  4. Build relationships and communities.

  5. Small wins can make a difference for others.

Jie's tips:

  1. There are many ways to be a good academic, but it is essential to consider finding a mentor or sponsor in your journey.

  2. You can have many mentors throughout your career and they can be academics from different universities and/or research fields.

  3. Different mentors will have different advice or support that they can offer – this is why it’s important to have more than one.

  4. A mentor should be someone you are comfortable with.

A mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way relationship, it should mutually benefit each other.

Read more evidence-based tips on our Mentoring and Sponsorship page by clicking here.

Download a copy of the presentation slides by clicking here.


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