So, now I have to stand back and watch someone else who doesn't have much on me get the position. Worse yet, the gf had encouraged me to apply for it, and I had explained to her that I couldn't compete. It is a learning moment for sure. I am learning that the market for senior administrators is really quite limited right now, and my skills and experiences may allow me to compete for these positions earlier than I thought possible. Yet, it still feels wrong to look at those positions right now, because they would require me to skip over a lower, intermediate position.
Yet, perhaps this is a particularly female way of looking at moving up. Many male leaders I see have no compunction against reaching for a much higher position, skipping steps along the way. There seems to be a different approach to taking on leadership positions, a "Sure I can" approach, rather than a "I'm not sure if I can" fear. They seem more comfortable blustering and fumbling their way through until they have figured out the parameters of the new position and made it their own. It is almost like watching people walk up stairs; women usually take them one at a time, while men are more likely to move more quickly taking two or three at a time. While I tend towards a more direct, masculine approach in interactions, something about this process of moving up in administration has me acting like a more traditional woman.
Perhaps some of my reticence is rooted in the way people react to my pursuit of higher adminstrative roles. Many people, even my academic friends, have talked about how ambitious I am. Others who aren't my friends imply that it is weird, self-aggrandizing, or some kind of power grab on my part. Perhaps it is those messages that make me a little more nervous about trying for a big move; nothing looks more like hubris and a hunger for power than a big leap ahead.
I wonder sometimes how one knows s/he is ready for such a big, stair-skipping move. I have gathered some recent proof that I may be ready:
- Other professionals in my life--friends and colleagues, including a few who hold that position--think I could do the job.
- People applying for these positions have qualifications similar to mine.
- I have ideas about how someone in that position could do the job well.
- I have friends and colleagues who have that job who would be willing to mentor me if I got such a position.
- I have other colleagues who have told me they would gladly come and work for me if I took that position.
- I am unsatisfied in my current position and want to be in a position to be doing more and operating on this level.
Have any of you skipped steps in your path to administrative jobs in higher ed? How did you manage your self-doubts?