O'Neil, Deborah A.; Brooks, Margaret E.; Hopkins, Margaret M.
In this study we examined dynamics between women in junior and senior positions in a law firm. We investigated perceptions and expectations of the roles women play in women’s career advancement – we were interested in how senior women support junior women by engaging in mentoring behaviors and how junior women promote themselves by engaging in career advancement behaviors. Consistent with predictions, senior women thought they were engaging in more mentoring than junior women believed about their senior colleagues. Contrary to predictions, junior women did not think they were engaging in more career advancement behaviors than senior women believed about their junior colleagues. However, junior women thought that senior women should be engaging in more mentoring behaviors, and senior women thought junior women should be engaging in more career-advancement behaviors. Finally, senior women were more likely to attribute their own mentoring to a desire to benefit others than were junior women; junior women were more likely to attribute senior women’s mentoring to self-enhancement and intrinsic satisfaction motives. Findings suggest that women have high (and often unmet) expectations for and differential perceptions of each other in the important area of women’s career advancement.