Vasudha Rao

School of Management
College of Business


Thesis Title
Gender, ethnicity and sponsoring: A phenomenological study of New Zealand women’s experiences of sponsoring.

Research Description
Although sponsoring has been highlighted as a potential positive intervention for women's career progression, based predominantly on US-based research and most notably following Hewlett, Peraino, Sherbin and Sumberg's survey based 2010 study, the nature of the sponsoring relationship is an under-researched area. The purpose of my doctoral research is to explore the lived experiences of sponsoring among New Zealand women in order to understand the nature of the sponsoring relationship. A qualitative research design was utilised for the study and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 participants across New Zealand. Preliminary findings suggest that sponsoring is experienced in diverse ways by individuals; that it leads to various career outcomes beyond raises and promotions; and that individuals attribute different meanings to the relationship. These findings challenge the existing understanding of sponsoring as narrowly career-focused and instrumental, and indicate the need to extend this understanding in order to address the diverse ways in which sponsoring is experienced. They raise important questions for future academic research on sponsoring and have implications for practice, including a possibly different and more contextual approach to sponsoring, and are thus also envisaged to contribute to the career development goals of women.

Research Benefit
With implications for academia and practice, the research would be of interest to academicians, organizations, practitioners and policy makers in the areas of human resources, talent management, leadership development and anyone associated with gender diversity initiatives or interventions.

Personal Description
I embarked on the doctoral journey after working for several years in various industries and in various capacities. What prompted me to take the leap was my interest in the subject of women and work, a desire to be in academia and the belief that I can make a contribution to my area of interest. I chose to pursue my PhD at Massey University for two reasons - my supervisor Dr. Sarah Leberman and Massey University's reputation for academic excellence. I envision teaching, researching and contributing to practice upon completion of my PhD.

Professor Sarah Leberman
Dr Farah Palmer
Dr Suze Wilson

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