Considering that women outnumber men in college attendance, with around 60% of women enrolled, it might be surprising that only about 23% hold executive positions and only 26% of CEOs are females. If these statistics are not surprising, how about the fact that there are fewer female CEOs than men with the name John. What exactly prevents so many women from acquiring these positions in the business world?
A large reason for this is the way in which females approach their professional social network.Making meaningful connections is essential for success in life, especially in the business world. Men have historically dominated executive roles, but the short-lived, superficial networking tactics most men use to land high-power jobs prove to be an unsuccessful approach for women. This is because women need different kinds of networks to succeed professionally. While men typically network with large social gatherings, women often focus on making long-term, deeper connections with people they trust. It was found that women who tried to create a network like men did worst because the close inner circle of women is the key to their networking success. In an interview with Forbes, a professor and author, Brian Uzzi, noted that 77% of the highest achieving women in his study had a small inner circle of women. He said that for women to excel in the workplace truly, they must exploit the advantage of a strong female support group. This suggests that women need to start using their gender norm labeled workplace "weaknesses" of being likable and warm to band together and create a strong female support system for mentorship.
Women overall are often more equipped with better relationship-building skills and are great at inspiring others, and to truly succeed this skill should be used in their networking strategy. Although both genders benefit from developing social networks, women's communication partners in networking significantly predict their job placement level. It was discovered that while men are likely to earn a high-ranking position with an extensive network, regardless of the gender of the connections, women benefit even greater with a small inner circle of other women. A woman with a female-dominated inner circle is expected to have job placement 2.5 levels higher than women with a male-dominated inner circle. In contrast, an inner circle between men was insignificant to males' success. This suggests that women provide unique mentorship for each other and significant support.
Overall while these small "cliques" often have negative connotations, these inner circles seem to be the key to female professional success. Women can share their challenges and relate to similar struggles in these inner circles and the built trust leads to long-term business contacts focused on the collaboration and support of each other. Women truly have the power to uplift each other, and the benefits of supporting other women reach further than just the professional world.