Study Says Women Advance in Careers When Social Network is Female Centered

A new study suggests that more than 75 percent of women in high-ranking positions have a female-dominated inner circle or have close friendships with the few women in their network. Women whose network was male-dominated were more likely to work in lower-ranked positions.

The study, conducted by the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, researched the social and communication networks of more than 700 former graduate students from the top-ranked business schools. While women’s professional rankings seemingly depend on their inner circle, the same cannot be said for men.

Lara Cullen, business coach, and human resource expert, explained that when women have a female-dominated support system or network, it decreases their stress levels, in turn, helping them to perform better, making women more likely to be promoted. Research also found that women with a female-dominated inner circle and high network centrality had a job placement level of 2.5 times greater than a woman with more men in her inner circle and low network centrality.

While more research needs to be done to determine the reasoning behind these findings, it’s a fact that most industries are male-dominated and sexism is what prevents women from getting ahead.

The Realist Woman’s take:

I find this study interesting but not surprising. It’s women who boost each other up and give each other the confidence to not only kick ass at work but to get through life in general. Having more female friends has given me a sense of security that I can get through anything because I have been blessed with an amazing support system.

This study didn’t just talk about gender-specific inner circles, but it also considered where women ranked in the workplace. Women in a higher-ranked position already have an advantage over the women who don’t and that alone makes a woman closer to professional success and promotions. You include an entire female support system cheering her on and you have a woman who is not only unstoppable but can and will use her position to advocate for and hire more women. I would hope that women in the lower-ranked positions are encouraged to keep climbing and find those women in your life who sincerely support you and want to see you break through that glass ceiling in your industry.