Representation and Sponsorship
The Hurdle of Self-Sustaining Women in
Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman, Data Platform Architect, Microsoft
Technical Solution Professional at Microsoft, Data Platform in
Power BI and AI
• Former Technical Intelligence Manager, Delphix
• Multi-platform DBA, (Oracle, MSSQL, MySQL, Sybase,
PostgreSQL, Informix…) and DevOps Engineer
• Oracle ACE Director, (Alumni)
• Oak Table Network Member
• Idera ACE Alumni 2018
• STEM education with Raspberry Pi and Python, including
DevOxx4Kids, Oracle Education Foundation and TechGirls
• Former President, Rocky Mtn Oracle User Group
• Current President, Denver SQL Server User Group
• Linux and DevOps author, instructor and presenter.
• Blogger, (http://dbakevlar.com) Twitter: @DBAKevlar
Different perspectives, experiences, and
insights improve decision-making and
lead to superior performance.
As a nation, we must be strategic in order to take
advantage of the talent we already have. It’s hard enough
for the U.S. to compete on a global stage, so we certainly
can’t leave half of our talent untapped.
President of Simmons College
The Importance of
• Mentors provide guidepost.
• Their own stories offer hope and inspiration.
• Offer support when challenges seem overwhelming.
• Someone you can confide in.
• Have your interests in mind when advising.
• Aren’t always formal arrangements.
Women in business are talented leaders
who can share their skills as trainers,
mentors and advocates.
How Are Sponsors Different?
• Offers insight on opportunities that may be overlooked, (promotions, projects and raises.)
• Introductions to network and opportunities outside of current role.
• Steps on how to build a career and not just based on advice.
• A sponsor has a deeper vested interest in your success.
And for the love of God, don’t confuse mentoring or sponsoring with
Mentoring Is More Personal
Help me understand
my (professional) self;
Help me identify a
Help me understand
where I might need to
Give me a place to
express my fatigue
and frustration; and
Give me a place to
express my self-doubt
Sponsoring is Action-Oriented
A sponsor has
authority in their
Help me plan my
Support me as I
take charge in my
Coaching SHOULD be an Independent and
Help me identify
why I’m stuck in
Help me identify
and align my needs
Help me to create a
Help me to
articulate my value
Teach me how to
define and reach
• Opportunities they might not be aware of without.
• Recognition that could be given to someone else.
• A voice when theirs is heard as a “whisper”.
• Extra support for their ideas, initiatives and
• Credit when bias arises or they’re less known.
• A helping hand when needed.
• Advice and guidance similar to a mentor.
Sponsorship is about putting your name and reputation on
the line for someone else. It could be as simple as
recommending someone for a new role, yet it's one of the
most powerful cultural tools any organization has.
• Its not a case of choosing, you should
• On average, men have 3-4 times more
sponsors than women in the
• Having both results in:
• 43% better chance of promotions.
• 36% increase in salary increases
The Think Tank Center for Talent Innovation, 2013
Sponsors Choose People Like Themselves
• Overall 71% of sponsors choose to sponsor individuals like
• Center for Talent Innovation found that this was true of both gender
• In a male-dominated industry, most sponsors are going to be male.
See the challenge?
How to Solve
• Recommend that sponsors or employers with
sponsorship programs match senior leaders with high
potential employees from underrepresented
• Have clear goals and accountability to understand why
people are underrepresented in the first place.
• Male leaders should take the time to understand why
recommendations to “lean in” doesn’t work for women
and white leaders should learn about the challenges that
people of color are facing in the workplace.
Why Women Step Back From Sponsors
• They think its “cheating”.
• Heavy scrutiny and loss of credit often drives women to attempt to do it all on their own,
even when they need the support and assistance of sponsors.
• Choose Their Own
• Sponsors and mentors often choose people that remind them of themselves. Due to the
heavy percentage that are male, this can also leave women without.
• Due to lacking female mentors and sponsors, it can also leave men and women fearful of
reaching out and appearing susceptible to rumors or gossip.
How Men Can
Support Support women when you know a problem exists. Get
comfortable begin uncomfortable.
When inappropriate behavior occurs, help to diffuse it as
peacefully as possible, (distractions, opportunity for the woman
to remove herself from the situation, etc.)
Be Aware Be aware of bias that seeps into conversations and openly
Listen Listen to women and people of color.
Respect Respect professional and personal space.
Mentor or A
• Why aren’t women promoted at the same rate as
• Why aren’t more women on corporate boards?
• Why aren’t more women heading up companies?
• Why aren’t women paid as much as men for doing
the same job?
• Why are so few women in the C-suite?
• Why aren’t more women in STEM jobs, where the
real money is?
These questions often lead to more scrutiny of
women instead of how you can help the woman
you’re mentoring overcome or succeed.
• Understand those that
mean well vs. those that
• Focus on education over
• Choose a male ally to
• Document if it escalates
“Lift as We
• Self-evaluate for bias- we all have
them, women just as much as men.
• Yes, women can be biased against
• Help support other women, even ones
with older biases about “limited
number of seats at the table” for
• Take the time to compliment other
women on professional or business
accomplishments. We’re often less
likely to do this due to how we
• When opportunity knocks and you can’t answer the
door, you know someone who can.
• Since you don’t say “No” but instead say, “I don’t have
the bandwidth, but I know who does!” you will be more
likely to be approached in the future.
• It’s a very two-way beneficial relationship. By
sponsoring, it’s a more rewarding connection that just
networking or mentoring.
Promise me you'll always remember:
You're braver than you believe, and
stronger than you seem, and smarter
than you think.
The Cost of
• Ask the individual to consider taking up
opportunities without too much thought put into it,
(especially for women)
• Details will work themselves out in the end.
• Only consider top level priorities and how the
opportunity corresponds with reaching overall
• Request the person being sponsored remember to
become a sponsor themselves and learn to “life
others as they rise.”
• Give credit to sponsors and mentors, especially if
they are women, people of color or other diversity.
How This is Self-
Women in Technology requires representation.
• Representation is less in leadership and
• Increased mentoring and sponsorship, as
shown in these slides, will result in more
representation at higher levels.
• If we “lift as we rise”, it will help sustain and
grow women in technology.
• By having more representation, there is less
bias due to women in technology being the
norm instead of the outlier.
In You’re Interested in
• Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor, Sylvia Ann Hewlett:
• Women in Tech, Take Your Career to the Next Level, Tarah
• Let Them Finish, Stories from the Trenches, Various Authors:
• Women in Tech and Gender Bias, Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman is
available for pre-order and will be out June, 2019:
• The Diversity Advantage, Ruchika Tulshyan: