Blog %

There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

Sponsors for Success

A few more ideas to ponder as I follow up on Rosa's posting...

The first time I really started thinking about the phrase 'sponsor' is when I read Sheryl Sandberg's book ‘Lean In’. She explains it quite well and it made so much sense to me. There is a fundamental difference between a mentor and a sponsor, and Rosa touched on this in the last post. A sponsor is somebody preferably within your organization who is there, physically and emotionally, who will bat for you. A mentor is a person invested in your growth, but more from the sidelines as opposed to being in the middle of the day-to-day operations. That's how I understand it at least.

While thinking about this, I remembered seeing 'The Hunger Games', a perfect example of how sponsorship works. You might think "What does the movie have anything to do with what we're talking about?", but hear me out...

The way I see it, our career, and any career for that matter, is a survival game first, which hopefully leads to thriving and coming to fruition as deserved. The sponsors in the movie not only watch the competitors, but also watch OUT for them. They cheer them on when they succeed, they talk up their strengths with others in power and lobby for them, and they support them when they need help or are in trouble - in this case with soup and healing cream! The sponsor's contributions are all ESSENTIAL to being successful.

Sponsorship is relevant to both men and women, but women need to take more of an active role in seeking and cultivating the sponsorship/advocate connection. It would be worth investigating how women in leadership roles today advanced and whether sponsors were a factor in promotion trajectories. Reciprocally, they are in a position to lend a helping hand to future women seeking leadership roles. OK, maybe not with soup, but rather with consciously and intentionally advocating for you when it matters the most.


by Basak Cakici-Adams