Women Must Network to Break Glass Ceiling
October 15th, 2018
As more women obtain high levels of achievement in business and government, understanding their path to success is as vital as avoiding complacency. Although women make up more than half the U.S. population and workforce, they continue to hold far less leadership positions than men do. While successful business women can be found throughout many industries--even leading powerhouse companies such as General Motors, YouTube, Fidelity, IBM, and Facebook, it's not nearly enough to consider the glass ceiling shattered.
As an experienced recruiter, I speak with candidates across the United States in a variety of roles, career levels and fields including engineering, technology, pharma, manufacturing, energy, and life sciences. Throughout my outreach, I've noticed that men, in general, understand and appreciate the benefits of networking much more than women do. Obviously, the role and field will play a part in the degree of willingness a passive candidate (those not actively seeking a job) will have toward networking about a career opportunity: For instance, salespeople typically are more open to networking than IT folks whether or not they are actively looking to make a career move.
Yet through years of connecting with candidates spanning various industries, locations, and career levels, in my experience, women have been much less open to networking than men in similar situations. This seems to contradict everything we assume about women in the workplace: That they tend to be more collaborative, communicative, and capable of multi-tasking than their male counterparts. The reality is that when women decline networking opportunities, they are self-imposing a limitation that could stifle their own advancement potential.
Perhaps as newcomers to the old-boys club, women aren't familiar with how the game is played, or maybe their reluctance to network stems from a lack of confidence after years of male dominance in business. Or is it because women view a conversation about a new career opportunity as a betrayal to their current employer? As with any general observation, the answer depends on many factors and could be all of the above, or none. What do you think?