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Equal Investments with Unequal Returns: High Status Contacts Benefit Women’s Status Attainment Less Than Men
Keywords: Gender, Social Networks, Status, Hierarchy
Abstract: Three multi-method studies examine individual status attainment as a function of the status of their social network contacts. Results demonstrate that women accrue significantly less status than men when they connect with higher status actors. Study 1 finds that professional women connected to high status network contacts are rated as lower in status in comparison to men. Study 2, a longitudinal study, find that the status of a woman’s network contacts at Time 1 predicts her lowered status at Time 2 while this negative relationship does not exist for men. Study 3, an experimental study, finds that women (but not men) who connect with high status actors are seen as being lower in communality, which leads to lower status attainment. Results suggest that women connecting to high status contacts reap lower status benefits than men engaging in the same social networking tactics. Implications for working women and organizations are discussed.