In job market, social contacts help men more than women

Study finds that men reap the social benefits of work experience but same cannot be said for women.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 22, 2011 09:57
1 minute read.
Israeli workplace (illustrative)

workplace 311. (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.

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“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.”


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