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Formal women-only networks: literature review and propositions

Florence Villesèche (INT, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Emmanuel Josserand (University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 7 August 2017




The purpose of this paper is to review the emerging literature on formal women-only business networks and outline propositions to develop this under-theorised area of knowledge and stimulate future research.


The authors review the existing literature on formal internal and external women-only networks and use the broader social capital and network literature to frame their arguments and develop propositions.


Propositions are developed regarding how both internal and external formal women-only business networks can be of value for members, firms/organisations and the wider social group of women in business.

Research limitations/implications

The authors focus on the distinction between external and internal formal women-only networks while also acknowledging the broader diversity that can characterise such networks. Their review provides the reader with an insight into the state of the art and a set of propositions that present opportunities for future research.

Practical implications

The paper provides insights into how women in business, organisations and wider society can leverage value from both internal and external formal women-only business networks.

Social implications

The paper contributes to research showing that the social structure of interactions and context can impact women’s standing in the workplace.


The paper sheds light on the under-studied and under-theorised phenomenon of formal women-only business networks. Beyond the individual member level, the authors suggest that such networks can be of value for organisations and the wider social group of women in management and leadership positions.



Villesèche, F. and Josserand, E. (2017), "Formal women-only networks: literature review and propositions", Personnel Review, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 1004-1018.



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