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Women’s Networking and Career Development: A Systematic Analysis of the Literature

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Abstract

Women behave differently from men in the development of their career. Additionally, women use networking relationships for advancement of their careers. Therefore, the purpose of this literature review is to analyze the different empirical views on barriers in women’s networking and its impact on their career development. The literature review comprises journal articles, conference proceedings and institutional reports by multidimensional organizations on the topic of women’s networking and their career development. This review article identifies five critical aspects in the literature as old boy’s networks, gender stereotype for networks, women network structure, network preference and attitude on women’s networking. Finally, this paper presents the deficiencies of existing literature and directions to future research.
International Journal of Business and Management; Vol. 11, No. 11; 2016
ISSN 1833-3850 E-ISSN 1833-8119
Published by Canadian Center of Science and Education
1
Women’s Networking and Career Development: A Systematic
Analysis of the Literature
W. M. S. K Wanigasekara1
1 Department of Human Resource Management, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Correspondence: W. M. S. K Wanigasekara, Department of Human Resource Management, University of Kelaniya,
Sri Lanka. E-mail: saroja@kln.ac.lk
Abstract
Women behave differently from men in the development of their career. Additionally, women use networking
relationships for advancement of their careers. Therefore, the purpose of this literature review is to analyze the
different empirical views on barriers in women’s networking and its impact on their career development. The
literature review comprises journal articles, conference proceedings and institutional reports by multidimensional
organizations on the topic of women’s networking and their career development. This review article identifies five
critical aspects in the literature as old boy’s networks, gender stereotype for networks, women network structure,
network preference and attitude on women’s networking. Finally, this paper presents the deficiencies of existing
literature and directions to future research.
Keywords: women, barriers of networking, top management, career development
1. Introduction
In today’s business world, many women works for the top level positions. Women have further accessed similar
level of education and employment opportunities as men. (ILO, 2005). Although, middle managerial level working
women have different issues to climb the career ladder to the top (Elmuti, Jia, & Henry, 2009). In line with this
regard, empirical research evidences have criticized the topic, why lack of women managers have not achieved
the top level career positions in their career ladder. As revealed by some researchers, there are different factors are
affecting to women to reach the ranks of top levels in management (Burke & Nelson, 2002; Burke & Mattis, 2005).
Among those factors, networking is one of the significant factors to discuss since networking is important to
improve managerial career development and affect to success of an individual (Singh et al., 2006) in the work
place. As defined by some researchers (Fisher & Vilas, 1991; Roane, 1993; Kramer, 1998; Barton, 2001;
Wellington & Catalyst, 2001) networking includes joining to professional associations, participating in social
functions and engage in social activities. Therefore networking can be supported to generate information, resources
and opportunities within and outside of the organization to female or male counterparts. Accordingly, networking
improve managerial career success. (Singh et al, 2006) of the work place. As said by Lathi, (2003) proper networks
make women to be successful on their own and this increases their determinations. Moreover, as suggested in some
research studies, networking is an important consideration for women’s career growth and success (Coleman,
2008). Women leaders can make networking to associate with organizational clients as well as with other collages
in their own profession or organization (Suseno et al., 2007) since networking brings range of benefits to enhance
the career success. These, networking relationships provide value to performers (e.g., individuals) by letting them
to top into the resources embedded in such relationships for their benefit (Bourdieu, 1986; Lin, 2001). However,
it is important to investigate women’s networking barriers to earn benefits from the networks in the same way as
men (Perriton, 2006; Fletcher et al., 2007; Tonge, 2008) to the development of their careers.
Therefore, this study has collected and criticized the literature from year 1995 to 2015 as “A literature review for
barriers in women’s networking and its impact on their career development”.
2. Methodological Approach of This Study
The methodological approach of this study is inspired by systematic analysis. Basically, a systematic analysis is
carrying together a number of differently conducted studies, sometimes with contradictory findings, and finally
producing their results (Akobeng, 2005). As mentioned by Akobeng, a systematic reviews let researchers to take
justification of the whole range of relevant conclusions from research on a specific topic, and not just the results
of one or two studies (Akobeng, 2005). Also, systematic reviews improve the reliability and accuracy of
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2
conclusions. Considering above mentioned benefits, the researcher has used the systematic analysis for this paper.
In contrast, researcher considered networking, formal and informal network, network structures, gender and
networking, stereotyping and career development as key words to search the literature researching on women
network and career development. The literature review encompasses journal articles, conference proceedings,
books and institutional reports by multidimensional organizations. Researcher examined approximately 15
journals (as mentioned below) with other sources. (Journal of Career Development International, Journal of
Economics, Business and Management, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Journal of Industrial and
Commercial Training, ,Research in Organizational Behavior, International Journal of Manpower, Journal of
Equal Opportunities International, Journal of Applied Psychology, Career Development International, Journal of
Educational Administration, Women in Management Review, Journal of Educational Administration, The
Academy of Management Review, Economics World) from 1995 to 2015. All the journals are highly recognized
journals of gender studies and management. Similarly, researcher selected the research articles based on relevancy.
The purpose of this study was to compare the empirical views about barriers on women’s networking and its impact
on career development.
3. Result
3.1 Old boys’ Networks
The old boys’ network can be referred as a mindset of a shared background and history with different informal
networks that were not easily associated by women (Mooney & Ryan, 2008). Moreover, networks at work are
often identified with “old boys” networks’ which can be formal, informal or personal, but always linked with male
privilege (Coleman, 2010). Theses male dominated networks are essential to career success. Further these male
dominated networks are more powerful and women naturally have difficulties in gain access to these male-
dominated networks. (Pini et al., n.d). Therefore, managerial women have limited or lack of access to male
dominated organizational networks with numerous disadvantages for career advancements as well as expressive
benefits such as friendship and social support (Ibid, n.d).
In several ways, these male dominated networks act as constrains for women to climb the top. As revealed by Sadl
(n.d.) in his study, men members of male network groups, particularly senior male counterparts, act as gatekeepers,
obstructing women’s career progression. Further, Gransmark (2010) revealed that these leading group are over-
represented among the recruiters for top level jobs and favor to hire employees with a similar background as
themselves and act as doorkeepers, reducing the possibilities for others to obtain the high-status jobs.
There are several reasons have combined with this male dominated behavior towards women’s career development
to the top level. Firstly, according to Ghazali et al. (2010) male managers are having their own ways in making
decision where sometimes the decisions were made in the informal setting such as washroom breaks or in lifts as
well. Similarly, Simmons(2011) long-established that the old boy’s network establishes business relationships on
golf courses, at exclusive country clubs, in the executive sky-boxes at sporting events, and in other facilities.
Therefore, women find it tougher to network in male-dominated settings and, therefore, women may miss out on
creating different networks that would empower them to raise their high profile (Mascia, 2015). Though, women
have the capability to be great leaders, but that they are still being held back (Mascia, 2015). Finally, as suggested
in, Green & Cassell (1996) in their study, women are seen as lack of leadership qualities and considered as
comparatively submissive, nurturing, warm, kind and selfness. Thus, they tend to be clustered with the entry level
positions. (Jamali, Safieddine & Daouk, 2007). With all these reasons, the “Old Boy’s Network” can avoid women
and other minority groups from being truly successful in the business world (Goodman, 2003). Recruiters for high-
status jobs and prefer to hire employees with a similar background as themselves as well as act as gatekeepers,
reducing the possibilities for others to obtain the high-status jobs.
3.2 Gender Stereotype
Gender stereotype leads to hinder the women’s career success through networking and such perceptions on
stereotypes are based on gender or sex-role stereotypes of what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior for men
and women leaders (Mavin, 2009). Further, these stereotypes are associated with the social predictions and
conceptual beliefs about the traits that are characteristic of, and fitting for, women and men (Mavin, 2009).
Therefore, societal expectations of gender suitability may highlight that women are expected to display communal
(nurturing, interpersonally sensitive) and that men are expected to show argentic (independent, assertive and
ambitious) abilities and behaviors (Wood & Lindorff, 2001).
As suggested by Simmon (2011) in his study, women have had minimal legal rights and career opportunities than
men over the past years and a woman’s main role has always been to be a house-wife, and then to be a mother.
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Hence, women have been stereotyped for years as being the less knowledgeable and weaker sex (Cohen &
Huffman, 2007). This gender stereotypes explicit a ‘message’ that the leader positions as a non-position for woman
whether women’s have appropriateness for a leader positions or not (Eagly & Carli’s, 2007; 2008). As suggested
by Mavin in his study, leadership qualities and traits are mostly associated with men, thus leaving women perceived
as less adequate for leader roles (Mavin, 2009). Therefore, Chemers and Murphy (1995) have mentioned that
women leaders face greater obstacles on gender stereotype.
Overall, women remain significantly lower represented in positions of power (Dee, 2013). These women carry
such restrictions as stereotyping and isolation (Barreto, Ryan, & Schmitt, 2009)
3.3 Women’s Network Structure
Network structure includes network size, composition and/or density (Moser & Wolf, 2009).With regard to
network structure, some research provides evidence that men and women differ in the structure of personal
networks, as well as in the rewards attained from personal networks. (Stallings, 2008). In one side, in male
dominating business structures, women have to make themselves known in men's networks as well to get
opportunities. On the other hand, men get more possibilities to rise to leadership positions with this network ties
than women. Further, if men have their own, broader networks than women, and if those men don’t aware about
any capable women to recommend, the opportunities will visibly go to men (Lathi, 2013). Research suggests that
if women takes opportunities through networks, women may gain less network rewards, such as beneficial
information or endorsement from top level managers, than men (Smith-Lovin & McPherson, 1993; Belliveau,
2005).
Moreover, network structure is a static and comprehensive view of an individual's total network encompassing the
entire population of an individual’s ties (Stalling, 2008). Further, women formed their networks in the same
structural context (Ibarra, 1997; Cited as Stallings, 2008). On the other wards, women expect to make relationships
with other women and with other minorities exists, a phenomenon called homophily (Rogers and Kincaid,
n.d).Therefore, this organizational structure influence for women’s career development over the networking (Ibarra,
1997; Cited as Stallings, 2008).Therefore, as suggested by Ibarra in her study, women are often less likely than
men to hold top level positions in organizations since women’s ability to generate influential societal networks.
Conversely, men does not face these same constraints.
While consider the network size on career development, Surngi (2014) has revealed that women have smaller
network size compared to men with several reasons. For example, for women there is a decline in network size at
reproduction age and with the problems of reproductive activities. (Moore, 1990). Moreover, women have
obstacles for networking in the social context than men and unable to commit the extra time outside of work hours
due to their parenthood commitments (Broughton & Miller, 2009). Therefore women have limited number of
members to associate and have lack of opportunities to climb the top.
3.4 Network Preference
Men and women are usually, inherently distinct. Therefore, they associate with others (Stallings, 2008) in different
ways. As revealed in number of former studies, women are more likely to make close ties with family members,
who provide support and collaboration, as compared to men (Miller, 1976; Chodorow, 1978; Gilligan, 1982; Surngi,
2014). Ibarra (1997, cited as Stallings, 2008) examined network preferences and found that high potential women
had significantly more same-sex career and information ties than non-high potential women. Men, on the other
hand, have a tendency to form more ties that provide instrumental resources than women (Ibarra, 1992; cited as
Stallings, 2008). Moreover, it has been found that men expects friendships from those men who also provide access
to organizational resources. Belliveau (2005) also demonstrates in his study that male instrumental ties may be
more valuable than female instrumental ties because individuals receive more valuable instrumental rewards, such
as access to important information (Mehra, Kilduff, & Brass, 1998) in an organization.
3.5 Attitudes on Women’s Networking
Gender differences in networking activities are stand up from gender-based socialization experiences. Further,
theses socialization viewpoints departs from the hypothesis that men and women learn gendered attitudes and
behaviors to be men and women (Addis & Mahalik, 2003). Further some other studies have mentioned that if
women have been culturally socialized and adopted certain behaviors, their traits leads them to fulfill assumed
roles such as dealing with domestic responsibilities, leaving the managerial positions to be occupied by men
(Cleveland, Stockdale, & Murphy, 2000). An example, it is suggested that men are having more instrumental
attitudes, whereas women hold more emotional responsive attitudes and like to release emotions more easily (Ogus
et al., 1990; Bakker et al., 2002). Further, the uneven distribution of women and men in various work roles, as well
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as the power structure and different opportunities within an organization, shape their attitudes (Brandser,
1996).Accordingly, women are anticipated to be more sensitive to others than men , place more value on
interpersonal relationships, and to seek societal support for a greater extent than does the male gender role
prescribes for men (Greenglass et al., 1996).Therefore, with these attitude issues, women have less welcome from
their work environments and somewhat threatened by what they perceived as self-serving dominant cultures
(Oakley, 2000). Therefore, organizational structures serve to exploit and continue gender-stereotyped attitudes and
uphold discrimination for women (Brandser, 1996).
4. Deficiencies of Existing Research
Through collecting and analyzing of research on women networking and career development in last 20 years, this
paper consists of the following deficiencies. This findings make a platform to show the gap between networking
and women’s career development. Also, these finding will be guided as path to future research. Firstly, it was
found, lack of fundamental theories on networking and women’s career development. Secondly, most of the studies
have generally identified the networking as a significant factor for women’s individual development however
researchers have not found the significant effect of networking on middle management women manager’s career
development. Further, the concept of “Old boys’ Networks” is emerging concept and discuss women’s networking
barriers with old boys’ networks but no one has recognized ‘how women can deal with old boys’ networks for their
career success. Moreover, it is difficult to find out sufficient number of empirical evidences for cultural constraints
on women’s career success and current studies have not considered different cultural settings such as traditions,
values, and beliefs on women’s networking. Moreover, sufficient number of researchers have not identified the
networking role and professional women’s attitudes on career development. Finally, there is a gap between
women’s networking and career development to identify the precautions to empower women and strengthen the
network relationships for women to reach the top management level positions.
5. Conclusion
This study investigated the literature related to women’s networking and their career development. It was found
that there are lack of research on women’s networking and career development. And few studies have
acknowledged the impact of gender on networking experiences (Garcia & Carter, 2009). Also, qualitative research
has dominated the in networking literature than quantitative research.
This paper mainly discussed the barriers of networking on women’s career development which are old boys’
networks, size of the network, structure of the women networking, gender stereotype for women’s networking,
attitudes of women networking, network preferences and cultural constrains.
In conclusion, this study is an initial step to fill the research gap. Furthermore, it is vital to conduct more research
on women networks and career development, to understand the women’s network role in the workplace and the
benefits to reach the top level.
6. Future Research
Future studies should attempt to find different cultural constrains on different cultures and contingent values of
specific networking behaviors. Further, it is important to investigate the specific structures and preferences of
women’s networking for future contribution.
Acknowledgments
There is no funding organization to support for this publication. The author gratefully acknowledge the guidance
of my potential supervisor.
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... Furthermore, past studies provide evidence that women lack the opportunity to access significant organizational connections and positions in their place of work (e.g., Alsubaie & Jones, 2017;Arokiasamy et al., 2011;Bertrand et al., 2018;Gupta, 2018;Jamil et al., 2019;Linge, VanRensburg & Sikalieh, 2010), especially, women academics in public higher education are underrepresented in the top level academic positions (Ortega-Liston & Soto, 2014) also, women academics stay distinguished in mid-level scholarly positions, low-level positions, or positions more border lined to advancement into top positions, for example, teachers and understudy administrations (Blau & Kahn, 2017;Jarmon, 2014) notwithstanding being as scholastically qualified as their male partners. Networking behavior has been believed to be particularly crucial since it is a technique women can use to get through the glass ceiling (Singh et al., 2006;Qureshi & Saleem, 2016;Wanigasekara, 2016). Networking behavior assists in building strong connections with others and may serve to broaden women's venture into the more elite classes of associations (Forret & Dougherty, 2004). ...
... Therefore, individuals who engage in networking behaviors are more satisfied with their careers. According to Wanigasekara (2016), women use networking associations for progression in their careers. Spurk et al. (2015) found that the networks' gender structure is related with subjective career success and concluded that Men's networks comprise of a higher percentage of male to female groups, which, sequentially, was positively correlated with subjective career success. ...
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Women’s advancement in the corporate workplace has taken significant strides over the last century. Research demonstrates, however, that despite an increased presence of female employees in mid-management positions, executive positions continue to be male dominated. Women are underrepresented in areas of governance, directorship, and executive leadership. This seems to contradict the apparent momentum of the promotion of women. This paper will unveil some of the hidden barriers that stubbornly exist for women in business. It will review research that demonstrates why gender inequality is difficult to recognize, the systems that perpetuate it, the complexities of how society views it, and the ways women respond to it. By understanding the interplay between external and internal obstacles, women who wish to assume positions of leadership can more easily navigate the labyrinth of gender inequality, and their male colleagues can better recognize the ways that they can either remove barriers or encourage equality. There are corporate, social and economic benefits to allowing women to fairly advance to positions of power. Recognizing and removing barriers is vital to the strength of companies, social networks and jurisdictions.
Article
Despite voluminous research indicating that women and minorities have limited access to or are excluded from organizational networks, two central questions remain unanswered: (a) In what specific ways, if any, do the interaction networks of men and women and whites and racial minorities differ? and (b) What mechanisms produce those differences? The central thesis of the article is that the organizational context in which interaction networks are embedded produces unique constraints on women and racial minorities, causing their networks to differ from those of their white male counterparts in composition and characteristics of their relationships with network members. Organizational context is hypothesized to affect personal networks directly, as well as through its impact on individuals' strategies for managing constraints. A theoretical perspective that views women and minorities as active agents who make strategic choices among structurally limited alternatives is offered.
Chapter
This is a review of argument and evidence on the connection between social networks and social capital. My summary points are three: (1) Research and theory will better cumulate across studies if we focus an the network mechanisms responsible for social capital effects rather than trying to integrate across metaphors of social capital loosely tied to distant empirical indicators. (2) There is an impressive diversity of empirical evidence showing that social capital is more a function of brokerage across structural holes than closure within a network, bur there are contingency factors. (3) The two leading network mechanisms can be brought together in a productive way within a more general model of social capital. Structural holes are the source of value added, but network closure can be essential to realizing the value buried in the holes.