(photo credit: Veronica Therese)
A new study has found that men reap the social benefits of work experience but the same cannot be said for women.
The study, conducted at North Carolina State University, found that work experience doesn’t improve a woman’s chance of finding a job through social contacts.
“The study finds that work experience is important, in large part because it helps us develop social connections that can help people learn about future job opportunities,” says Dr. Steve McDonald, an assistant professor of sociology at NC State and author of a paper describing the study. “However, while men reap the social benefits of work experience, women do not.”
Using a national dataset of more than 12,000 people, McDonald found that
men who had lots of specialized work experience were often recruited
into a new job through their social contacts without having to actively
look for a job.
Women, however, were no more likely to find a job through informal recruitment than they were through a formal job search.
“Previously, researchers have argued that women face lower-wage payoffs
than men with similar work experience because the women have fewer
opportunities to develop job skills,” McDonald says. “But this study
suggests that a lack of useful social connections may also be driving
the gender wage gap.”
The disparity is especially problematic for women vying for high-wage, managerial jobs.
“We need to learn more about exactly why women don’t get the same
benefits from their social connections that men do,” McDonald says. “But
right now, we just don’t have the long-term data we need on these
social networks to fully understand this phenomenon.”