Breedlove's Briefing: Women, Your Inner Circle May be Key to Gaining Leadership Roles

April 1 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

Women, Your Inner Circle May be Key to Gaining Leadership Roles

Who it’s for:

Every woman striving for a leadership role.

Why it’s important:

Over the past decade, we have successfully locked in on the key barriers holding women back at work. However, we have yet to successfully uncover the strategies and road maps for eradicating these barriers. This is a new frontier, but believe it or not, we are still in the Wild West, ladies. Research is progressing from what the barriers are to why they exist and how to tackle them. This alone is progress.

According to a new study by the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, women who communicate regularly with a female-dominated inner circle are more likely to attain high-ranking leadership positions.

The study showed that more than 75 percent of high-ranking women maintained a female-dominated inner circle, or strong ties to two or three women whom they communicated with frequently within their network. For men, the larger their network – regardless of gender makeup – the more likely they were to earn a high-ranking position.

Unfortunately, when women have social networks that resemble those of their male counterparts, they are more likely to hold low-ranking positions. (Who knew the gender makeup of your inner network may just be the secret sauce?)

Women’s communication patterns, as well as the gender composition of their network, significantly predict their job level. Communication patterns and gender composition of a social network have no significant effect for men landing high-ranking positions.

Researchers reviewed social and communication networks of more than 700 former graduate students from a top-ranked business school in the U.S. Each student in the study had accepted a leadership-level position. Researchers then compared three variables of each student’s social network: the size of their network; the proportion of same-sex contacts; and the amount of strong versus weak network ties.

They found that women with a high network centrality and a female-dominated inner circle have an expected job placement level that is 2.5 times greater than women with low network centrality and a male-dominated inner circle.

When it comes to attaining leadership positions, women are not likely to benefit from adding the best-connected person to their network. While those connections may improve access to information important to job search and negotiations, female-dominated inner circles can help women gain gender-specific information that would be more important in a male-dominated job market.

Top Take-Away: Successful strategies for building a network that can enhance leadership role opportunities looks very different for you than it does for your male peers. But knowing that should feel enlightening and incredibly useful. Knowledge is power! One size does not fit all, so build those networks smartly – with other women!

*This is new information, so I can’t offer additional material – yet. I’ll stay on the lookout.*

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