How Google Hires MBAs

Professor Vicki Medvec speaks at the Global Women’s Summit takes place at the Kellogg School of Management on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Evanston, Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Schukar

Women Need To Network Twice As Much As Men

“It’s not about what you know, but who you know.”

We’ve all heard this. But a recent study finds that women often need to network differently than men in order to land highly-coveted leadership positions. How can they do it? Simple: connect with other women.

“For men, centrality in the school-wide student network predicts job-rank placement,” the study reads. “Women’s placement is also predicted by centrality and the presence of a distinctive inner circle of women in their network.”


The study, entitled “A network’s gender composition and communication pattern predict women’s leadership success,” was published on January 22nd by Yang Yang, Nitesh V. Chawla, and Brian Uzzi by PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). It looked at graduates of top MBA programs who were placed directly into leadership positions.

To do this, the authors analyzed students’ personal characteristics, academic performance, and their social network information drawn from 4.5 million email correspondences among hundreds of students.

The authors controlled for students’ personal characteristics, work experience, and academic performance to find a correlation between social networks and placement into leadership positions.

Male Networking vs. Female Networking

The results were striking.

For one, the authors found that men with network centrality in the top quartile can expect to have a job placement level 1.5 times greater than men in the bottom quartile of network centrality.

“For males, the higher a male student’s centrality in the school-wide network, the higher his leadership-job placement will be,” the authors say.

On the other hand, women with a network centrality in the top quartile and a female-dominated network have an expected job placement level 2.5 times greater than women with low centrality and a male-dominated network.

“While centrality also predicts women’s placement, high-placing women students have one thing more: an inner circle of predominantly female contacts who are connected to many nonoverlapping third-party contacts,” the authors say.

The Tight Knit Circle of Women

The study offers some interesting insight into how women job seekers approach a company vs. how male job seekers do.

For instance, the study found that women job seekers often ask questions regarding how women are treated at a specific company. On the other hand, men don’t need to worry about whether a company will be a hostile environment due to their gender.

“Quite frankly, most of the jobs are still male-dominated and therefore the kind of private information that’s so important to help women get ahead isn’t as important to men’s advancement,” Northwestern University data scientist Brian Uzzi, the lead author on the study, tells Wired magazine.

Uzzi says the implications of the study highlight the importance in having extra women-only networking events that help women make connections they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

“Women need two things and men only need one, so for every one contact a man makes, a woman has to split her time between the contact that’s going to give her market information and the contact who’s going to give her private information,” Uzzi tells Wired. “If you’ve got to split the time between the two, you’ve got to be very smart about the kinds of choices you make.”

Sources: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Wired


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