Scouting for Good Jobs: Gender and Networking in Job Search
43 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2017 Last revised: 22 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 22, 2018
While networking – the purposeful creation of instrumental ties for professional goals – is widely seen as a key to success in job search, prior research does not make clear predictions about whether women’s and men’s networking might differ. In this paper we clarify these theoretical predictions and propose a new mechanism that we term “scouting,” by which members of a negatively-stereotyped minority group network – especially with other members of this group – to “scout” potential employers, or to gain an in-depth understanding of firms’ organizational culture and practices, in order to identify employers where members of this group have the best chances of professional success. To examine this new mechanism, we leverage a unique research setting and study networking outreach among similarly qualified men and women, presented with a similar pool of potential contacts, as they search for jobs. Specifically, we examine networking with alumni by job-seeking students in an elite MBA program using server logs to directly observe students’ outreach behavior. Consistent with “scouting,” we find that female students reach out to significantly more women and to at least as many men as their male classmates; qualitative data support this interpretation of the empirical results. We discuss the implications of these findings for our understanding of status differences in networks and career attainment, especially as they relate to the “whisper networks” revealed by the #MeToo movement.
Keywords: Networking, Social Networks, Gender, Labor Markets
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