Gender Studies | Ladders

Gender Studies

Thoughts and notes from Ladders’ editor-in-chief on why the glass ceiling is still firmly in place.

Does the boys’ club still present barriers to women seeking $100K+ positions?

After decades of legislation and corporate policy intended to level the playing field and let qualified women into senior positions, disparities remain — but experts tell Ladders that the real problem may lie in the sociology of networking tactics.

Professional women looking for high-powered jobs have the career-development and job-search savvy they need. However, many of them still lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to working their networks, according to George Washington University sociologist Lisa Torres and others who study corporate hiring patterns.

The Catch-22: Women and men tend statistically to network with members of their own sex — and because men have historically been in more influential positions, male networks are often more powerful.

“Women have tended to be better connected overall, but they and many of their female contacts tend to work in more female-dominated jobs,” sociologist William Bielby, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told reporter Kevin Fogarty. “So their networks may be wider, but don’t reach to as high a level as men, who tend to be better connected, particularly in getting professional news, to more high-status people.”

Bottom line: Women who understand these networking tangles can take better steps to address them, both by strengthening their personal pitches and extending their networks to span the gender gap.