In this episode, I talk with Andrea Janzen, founder, and CEO at Ambition Theory, about the results of her 2023 Building Better: Women in Construction report, developed in collaboration with the National Center for Construction Education and Research. We also talk about the difference between mentorship and sponsorship, and address the sponsorship disparity faced by women in engineering.
***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Andrea:
- Can you summarize the key findings from your 2023 “Building Better: Women in Construction” initiative?
- What are the common challenges that women in engineering often face in terms of advancing their careers?
- What skills and qualities are crucial for women to succeed in leadership roles?
- What steps can companies take to create a more inclusive and diverse environment that supports the professional growth of women?
- What steps can women take to position themselves for sponsorship opportunities?
- How can companies actively support women in moving from mentorship to sponsorship, facilitating opportunities for career advancement?
- What advice would you offer to a young woman aspiring to move into leadership roles?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Bridging the Sponsorship Gap for Women in Construction: From Protege to Powerhouse:
- In her 2018 talk, Andrea stressed the need for big changes to help women at work. The recent “Building Better” report, done with the National Center for Construction Education and Research, confirmed Andrea’s hunch: mentorship programs alone don’t get women into leadership roles. It shows we need broader approaches for real gender equity.
- Based on insights from the industry report encompassing roles such as craft professionals and engineers, it’s clear that 88% of women aspire to or currently hold leadership positions, dispelling the myth that women lack interest in leading. However, a significant challenge arises as 72% report rarely having a woman manager or supervisor. This scarcity of representation makes it difficult to envision such roles, showing the impact of visible examples on career aspirations.
- Women possess valuable leadership skills often overlooked in current systems. While the traditional approach focuses on tasks, women excel in inspiring and collaborative roles. The challenge is our systems favor task-oriented skills. Recognizing and valuing women’s unique abilities, like inspiration and problem-solving, is crucial for unlocking their full leadership potential in various projects and companies.
- While mentorship is often advocated for women, focusing on advice and preparation, it shows limitations in propelling them into leadership roles. Even though many women have mentors, the fact that 72% rarely have a woman manager signals a gap in its effectiveness. On the other hand, sponsorship, highlighting exposure and opportunity, significantly accelerates careers. Unfortunately, women encounter sponsorship only half as frequently as mentorship, constraining their growth. Recognizing this distinction and challenging perfectionist expectations tied to mentorship is crucial, potentially transforming the game for companies and individuals, breaking gender stereotypes, and promoting more equitable career advancement.
- Securing sponsorship involves exposing yourself to influential figures, not necessarily your boss, through networking or engaging in events with senior leaders. Focus on understanding their goals and challenges, offering value by being the eyes and ears on the ground, and providing unique insights. It’s about cultivating relationships and showcasing your value, which leads to opportunities once trust is established.
- Sponsorship is crucial for career advancement, and requires a strategic approach. Women seeking sponsors should expand their network beyond their direct boss, participating in events attended by senior leaders. Understand sponsors’ goals, offering value aligned with their objectives.
- Demonstrate reliability and capability to build trust, ensuring sponsors that investing in you is worthwhile. Shift from an advice-focused dynamic to asking sponsors questions that promote active sponsorship. Recognizing when a mentoring relationship doesn’t align with your goals is crucial for effective career navigation.
- In taking charge of their career growth, women can expand networks and showcase their value to influential figures, shifting from seeking advice to strategic discussions.
- Companies can support women by facilitating connections with influential leaders, promoting an inclusive culture, and offering guidance on sponsorship dynamics. Cultivating an environment that values diversity and recognizes women’s unique contributions enables companies to actively assist women in their professional journey.
- Shifting responsibility from women to the company is crucial. Companies should educate executives on mentorship versus sponsorship, setting KPIs for leaders to sponsor diverse individuals. Actively engaging in finding sponsors for women is vital, ensuring a more inclusive environment. This approach benefits both sponsors and mentees, aligning sponsorship with business objectives for overall success. Education is fundamental in promoting a company-wide understanding of sponsorship’s transformative power.
- Getting curious and fearlessly asking questions are key. Instead of waiting in the background, dive in, especially when talking to seasoned professionals. People enjoy sharing their experiences, and it’s a great way to learn and build connections. Don’t hesitate to approach those you admire; they might be just as eager to learn from you.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest: Andrea Janzen
Andrea Janzen is a Certified Executive Coach with an MBA, a Forbes contributor, and a top-rated speaker. She is passionate about coaching women in construction to develop themselves and helping companies advance more women into leadership roles.
Andrea is also the founder and CEO of Ambition Theory, a company on a mission to help women in construction advance their careers and help companies build workplaces where women can thrive. Ambition Theory is dedicated to driving systemic change in the construction industry and offers leadership training and coaching that equips individuals with the transformational leadership skills essential for advancement. Ambition Theory believes that it is the responsibility of industry leaders and companies to create a more inclusive and diverse environment and work collaboratively with organizations to make this a reality.
Since 2018 Ambition Theory has worked with dozens of companies across North America and Andrea has coached and trained over 1,000 construction professionals. Catch Andrea on the twice-monthly Ambition Theory Women In Construction Podcast!
About the Host: Tiffani Teachey
Tiffani Teachey is a Sr. Mechanical Engineer, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) advocate, TEDx international speaker, and international best-selling author of the children’s book “What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z,” the STEM Crew Kids Adventures series, and three empowerment books. She is the host of the Read It Right Radio Show on WDRBmedia. Tiffani is the owner of Thrive Edge Publishing and owner/publishing consultant of Inspired Authors Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering as well as a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management, both from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is currently a Leadership Studies Ph.D. student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
As an engineer with more than 19 years of experience, Tiffani has a passion for inspiring the next generation to engage in STEM careers. She was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and enjoys traveling and being a youth mentor. For more about Tiffani, visit her website at www.TiffaniTeachey.com. Check out the free STEM gift – 10 STEM Scholarships & Organizations e-book at www.stemistheway.com.
Building Better Women in Construction Report
Engineering News Record
Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference
National Center for Construction, Education, and Research (NCCER)
Connect with Andrea Janzen on LinkedIn
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on bridging the sponsorship gap for women in construction.
Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Host of the Women in Engineering Success Stories from STEM Professionals Podcast