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Do women's networks help advance women's careers? Differences in perceptions of female workers and top leadership

Deborah A. O'Neil (College of Business Administration, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)
Margaret M. Hopkins (Department of Management, College of Business, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Sherry E. Sullivan (College of Business Administration, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 29 November 2011

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Abstract

Purpose

The use of women's networks is emerging as one method of advancing women's careers within organizations. However, the value of these networks has been questioned. The purpose of this study is to examine how potential differences in the perceptions of network members and the firm's executive leadership about the purposes and anticipated outcomes of a women's network may impact women's career advancement.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors interviewed 21 members of an intra‐firm women's network and six members of the executive leadership team of a global organization. To examine the qualitative data, they used a process of thematic analysis to discover prevalent themes in the transcribed interviews.

Findings

Both members of the women's network and the executive leadership team placed responsibility for women's career advancement upon the individual; the firm's male‐dominated culture and organizational constraints were not emphasized. While members of the women's network recognized how the network could be used to contribute to the firm's strategic goals, the executive leadership team did not recognize the network's possible effect on the firm's bottom line.

Originality/value

Examines how potential differences in the perceptions of network members and the firm's executive leadership about the purposes and anticipated outcomes of a women's network may impact women's career advancement.

Keywords

Citation

O'Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M. and Sullivan, S.E. (2011), "Do women's networks help advance women's careers? Differences in perceptions of female workers and top leadership", Career Development International, Vol. 16 No. 7, pp. 733-754. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620431111187317

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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