It's not just what you know, it's who you know: technical knowledge, rainmaking, and gender among finance executives

The Transformation of Work

ISBN: 978-0-76230-766-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-097-5

ISSN: 0277-2833

Publication date: 14 March 2001


This qualitative analysis of interviews with over 100 executives studies the boundaries excluding most women from the most lucrative and powerful jobs in the financial services industry. This chapter examines the roles of technical knowledge and social capital in the highest levels in financial services firms. Although technical expertise is necessary for reaching midlevels, promotion to the highest levels requires that the executive can cultivate interfirm business networks to generate business, or make rain. The networks are male-dominated; women face particular challenges in permeating these networks and making them pay. To elicit men's trust and to get their business, unusually successful female executives adopt stereotyped, sexualized strategies that help their individual careers yet also reinforce the symbolic boundary excluding most women from top positions in financial services. The chapter also examines changes in these strategies over time. Compared to the stereotyped roles for female managers Kanter identified over 20 years ago, stereotypes of successful women today may be loosening, allowing female finance executives a bit more freedom in how they establish business relationships.


Blair-Loy, M. (2001), "It's not just what you know, it's who you know: technical knowledge, rainmaking, and gender among finance executives", Vallas, S. (Ed.) The Transformation of Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 51-83.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2001, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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