WISE women in computer science

Sponsorship Can Start Small

Credit: Flickr / Takashi Hososhima

My friend Duretti asked for tips on being a mentor, and here was mine:

That seemed like impossible advice. But!

I have a friend who has followed her boss from job to job because he sets her up to be successful. This is what we typically think of as sponsorship. But, it’s a high bar to meet and one that we may not feel we have the power to do.

(Not to mention: women and minorities are perceived negatively when they advocate for other women and minorities – this is not true for white men.)

I once observed that mentors give perspective, sponsors give opportunity.

Here’s another: a lot of men don’t know what sponsorship is, because they just call it “going to work” (related article).

To move from mentor to sponsor, is really about moving from passive to active. There are absolutely small ways to sponsor someone. Some ideas:

  • Buy them a book.
  • Ask for them to work on a project you’re involved with.
  • Make an introduction.
  • Refer them to a job.
  • Suggest them as a speaker at an event you previously spoke at.
  • Suggest their work (e.g. to include in a newsletter or profile).

Other ideas? Suggest in the comments!

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