Tina Reynolds brought my attention to this piece of research on career mobility for young professionals (with a focus on women), the research being based on personnel data from a large American law firm.
In brief, it claims that whether a person stays with an employer or leaves within a certain timeframe, in a profession which requires regular promotion to remain with an employer, depends on whether that person is supervised/mentored by a person of the same gender/demographic. It also says that, when a person wishing to progress is within a work group with a high proportion of the members being of the same gender/demographic, they are more likely to leave, as they perceive the other group members as competition.
Now, I may well work with lawyers, but that doesn’t mean I have any insight into the dynamics of their career hierarchies, how supported they feel my their supervisors, or what they feel about competition for promotion. I’ve also never worked for anything other than women as my line managers, and I’ve only ever worked within an all-female group. So, I’ve never really experienced this “move upwards, or move out” scenario myself. The study says the results are “best generalized to other professional service organizations where human capital is critical, senior sponsorship is coveted and competition is intense.” Is this something that happens in library teams? Are they competitive?
Are there library workplaces in which people do feel outcompeted by others of the same gender, e.g. academic libraries or public libraries, who typically have larger amounts of staff and thus more candidates for senior roles? Do female bosses in a female-heavy profession encourage junior female employees to feel they can progress? Do male bosses not inspire junior female staff? Do males feel they’re missing out if they don’t have a male supervisor?
Or: is the study really just a pile of nonsense, and everyone’s always utterly happy in all ways?
4 thoughts on “Up, or out?”
As I work in an all male team, I can't really comment either!
Ah: in that case you're either suffering from the lack of a same demographic mentor/supervisor, or you're enjoying the lack of competition! 😉
Very interesting post.
I think one thing missing from library teams, which is present in groups of lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc, is the very real threat of being 'managed out of the business' if they don't perform (and regular upward promotion = clear signal of, as well as reward for, performance).
Perhaps without this 'hothouse' environment there is less concern about having gender specific role models or support (and less worry about competition)?
Ah yes, probably a very important element, since most library teams are more focussed on working well together and optimising their workflow, rather than getting promoted past each other! 🙂
Personally, I'm glad that aspect's missing from most library teams, I don't know how anyone copes with that pressure to be the best, or get out!