Reddit | MoreStuffz

Women With Circle Of Female Friends More Likely To Get Ahead, Study Says

Despite what your older relatives who tell you to ask a random business' manager for a job might think, finding employment is often a grueling process filled with discouraging non-responses from potential employers.

Although we can sometimes get lucky and find that one of our online applications actually leads to an interview, our expectation that it's not what you know, but who you know can often turn out to be true.

But as a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America seems to suggest, that wisdom can apply to more than just the contacts we make expressly in the hopes of finding work. And that seems particularly true for women.

As far as one of the study's authors, Brian Uzzi, is concerned, how students network heavily influences their success at gaining executive roles in business.

Reddit | randomorzero

As he wrote for the Harvard Business Review, the level of "centrality" in these networks among MBA students consistently influenced job placements even when they controlled for GPA, test scores, work experience, and other individual factors.

Centrality in this case doesn't refer to the size of the network you're building up among peers, but how many "hubs" of student groups that it includes. It's about diversity rather than size.

This centrality mattered a great deal for female and male students alike, but its influence applied in different ways.

Reddit | frontget

As Uzzi wrote, this centrality gave students access to job information that was dispersed throughout different pockets of their student body.

This included who was hiring, what salaries they were offering, how long it took to get promoted, and what they were looking for on a resumé.

While this centrality was observed to drive placement for men, it didn't necessarily provide the best advancements for women on its own.

Reddit | apatt

When researchers analyzed 4.5 million email conversations with identifying information removed among 728 MBA graduates (74.5% men, 25.5% women) at a top American business school, they found that women who just relied on this centrality in a similar fashion to men ended up with jobs that afforded them both less authority and lower pay.

What Uzzi and his colleagues found was that the women they studied needed both this centrality and a close group of female friends to get the best leadership positions.

Reddit | MoreStuffz

For men, the gender makeup of their closest one-to-three friends didn't seem to have this effect, but women who had other women in this circle tended to gain 2.5 times as much authority and pay as women who didn't have this going for them.

The reason for this was that these closer social circles shared more private information about employers that wouldn't necessarily come from networking contacts.

Reddit | riggorous

As Uzzi wrote, this tended to concern the organizational cultures and prevailing attitudes of certain firms when it came to equal advancement for men and women, women in leadership positions, and whether potential interviewers were likely to ask about plans to start a family.

Armed with this information, women were better-equipped to navigate their options and less likely to be blindsided by retrograde unspoken firm policies and low-paying positions.

Researchers also saw that the benefits of this social circle were most pronounced when the women involved didn't necessarily have mutual friends.

Reddit | Fl4m1nG

As Uzzi put it, the less overlap their contacts had, the more information a woman befriending them could draw from.

It's for this reason that he also encouraged random selection when networking among peers to avoid the bubbles in information that can come with exclusively like-minded contacts.

When there's a whole different level to the game, the other players on your team make a lot of difference.

h/t: Harvard Business Review

Filed Under: