The Old Boys' Club: Schmoozing and the Gender Gap

100 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2019 Last revised: 12 Mar 2020

See all articles by Zoe Cullen

Zoe Cullen

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Ricardo Perez-Truglia

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 1, 2019

Abstract

Offices are social places. Employees and managers take coffee breaks together, go to lunch, hang out over drinks, and talk about family and hobbies. In this study, we provide evidence that employees' social interactions with their managers can be advantageous for their careers and that this phenomenon can contribute to the gender pay gap. We use administrative and survey data from a large financial institution. We conduct an event-study analysis of manager rotation to estimate the causal effect of managers' gender on their employees' career progressions. We find that male employees assigned to male managers were promoted faster in the following years than male employees assigned to female managers; female employees, on the contrary, had the same career progression regardless of their managers' gender. These differences were not accompanied by any differences in effort or performance, and they explain a third of the gender gap in promotions at this firm. Then, we provide evidence suggesting that these effects were mediated by the social interactions between male employees and their managers. First, we show that the effects were present only among employees who worked in close proximity to their managers. Second, we show that the effects coincided with an uptick in the share of breaks taken with the managers. Third, we provide suggestive evidence that social interactions are important even among male employees: when male employees who smoke transitioned to male managers who smoke, they took breaks with their managers more often and were subsequently promoted at higher rates than male smokers who transitioned to non-smoking managers.

Keywords: gender, career, promotions, socialization, networking

JEL Classification: J1, J16, J7, Z1, Z13

Suggested Citation

Cullen, Zoe and Perez-Truglia, Ricardo, The Old Boys' Club: Schmoozing and the Gender Gap (December 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3493478 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3493478

Zoe Cullen (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=879471

Ricardo Perez-Truglia

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/perez-truglia

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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