Interventions for Improving Professional Networking for Women: Experimental Evidence From the IT Sector

90 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018 Last revised: 11 Feb 2020

See all articles by Sofia Bapna

Sofia Bapna

University of MN, Carlson Schoiol of Management

Russell Funk

University of Minnesota

Date Written: Feb 10, 2020

Abstract

Professional networks are vital for individuals’ career advancement. Research demonstrates, however, that women are often disadvantaged in their access to such networks. 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 LinkedIn connections. We theorized that in fields where women are underrepresented (e.g., IT) 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 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 LinkedIn connections they added by 29%, and their odds of changing jobs by a factor of 1.6. 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, Career Mobility

Suggested Citation

Bapna, Sofia and Funk, Russell, Interventions for Improving Professional Networking for Women: Experimental Evidence From the IT Sector (Feb 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3157260 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3157260

Sofia Bapna (Contact Author)

University of MN, Carlson Schoiol of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Russell Funk

University of Minnesota

MN 55455
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.russellfunk.org

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
170
Abstract Views
1,770
rank
182,374
PlumX Metrics