A Woman’s Inner Circle could be the Key to Success - International Coaching Federation
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A Woman’s Inner Circle could be the Key to Success

Posted by Savannah Patton | March 18, 2019 | Comments (1)

Women: Develop and keep close ties to other women! Science shows that women who have a close, regular group of female contacts are more likely to obtain high-ranking leadership positions.

According to a new study by the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, more than 75 percent of women who are in high-ranking roles maintain a female-dominated inner circle.

“Although both genders benefit from developing large social networks after graduate school, women’s communication patterns, as well as the gender composition of their network, significantly predict their job placement level,” says Nitesh V. Chawla, a co-author of the study and professor at University of Notre Dame.

The study looked at the social and communication networks of more than 700 former graduate students from a top-ranked business school in the United States. All participants had accepted leadership-level positions. Researchers compared three variables of each participant’s social network: network centrality, or the size of the social network; gender homophily, the proportion of same-sex contacts; and communication equality, or the amount of strong versus weak network ties.

Researchers found that unlike men, who are more likely to earn a high-ranking position the larger their network is—regardless of gender makeup, women with similar networks are more likely to hold lower-ranking positions. On the flip side, women with higher network centrality and a female-dominated inner circle, where she has strong ties to two or three women within her network, have an expected job placement level 2.5 levels higher than women with lower network centrality and a male-dominated inner circle.

“The same factors—communication patterns and gender composition of a social network—have no significant effect for men landing high-ranking positions,” says Chawla. “We also saw that inner circles benefit from each other, suggesting that women gain gender-specific private information and support from their inner circle, while non-overlapping connections provide other job market details.”

Most would claim that to “get ahead” you need to network with people in high places. However, this study shows that women are not likely to benefit from adding the best-connected person to their network. While those connections may help you get some information, they will not be as helpful as female-dominated inner circles, which can offer gender-specific information that would be more important in a male-dominated job market. Spend time building up your connections with other women, and it just might pay off in more ways than one!

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Savannah Patton

Savannah Patton is the ICF Communications Assistant and a freelance writer for Kentucky Sports Radio. She graduated in May 2016 from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor's degree in Integrated Strategic Communications with a focus in Public Relations.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (1)

  1. cynbro969@gmail.com says:

    This is very interesting, I am going to work on building my network with women.

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