An Experimental Assessment of Interventions for Improving Women’s Professional Networking: Results from IT
66 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018 Last revised: 21 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 11, 2018
Women are underrepresented in many STEM fields, like IT, where 25% of professionals are women. Differences in men’s and women’s networking may contribute to women’s underrepresentation. Using a randomized field experiment at an IT conference, we found that women had worse networking outcomes than men. Relative to men, women met 42% fewer new contacts, spent 48% less time talking to them, and added 25% fewer connections on LinkedIn. We theorized that two networking barriers—search and social—differentially affect men and women. We designed and experimentally tested interventions for reducing these barriers. The search intervention was designed to facilitate locating diverse contacts and useful information. The social intervention was designed to facilitate helping behavior and connecting across social boundaries. We find that the search intervention increased the number of new contacts women met by 57%, the time they spent talking with them by 90%, the number of connections women added on LinkedIn by 29%, and women’s likelihood of changing jobs by 1.6 times. The social intervention increased the time women spent talking to new contacts by 66%. The interventions did not improve men’s outcomes. Our results show that simple interventions can help women grow their networks and find jobs.
Keywords: IT workers, women in IT, gender gaps, social network analysis, networking, randomized field experiment, mobility
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