Reaching up: The influence of gender, status, and relationship type on men's and women's network preferences

Monica Mullick Stallings, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Organizational research provides evidence that men and women differ in the structure of their personal networks as well as in the rewards attained from their personal networks (Ibarra 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997. The potential confound in past research between structural constraints and personal preferences has made it difficult to explain why men and women’s networks are different regarding gender, status and relationship type. In this dissertation, I explain gender-based differences in networks through a framework of network preferences when seeking career-related advice with specific focus on three key variables: gender-based homophily, status, and relationship type. In Study 1 and Study 2, I test the effect of status alone and then the interaction between status and gender-based homophily to determine who men and women are most likely to approach when seeking career-related advice. I find that both men and women prefer higher-status others more than equal-status others when seeking career-related advice. I also find widespread gender-based homophily for women but limited gender-based homophily for men. In Study 3, given that individuals prefer seeking advice from higher status others as found in the prior studies, I only examine situations where there is a higher status advice-giver while further examining gender homophily and also building in the consideration of two relationship types, instrumental and multiplex, to understand their influence on men’s and women’s network preferences. I find that both men and women most prefer seeking advice from same-sex multiplex ties. However, because same-sex multiplex ties are not always available in organizations, I also examine their “next” preferences which reveal divergent findings between men and women. Women’s next preference is a male with a multiplex tie, whereas men’s next preference is either a male with an instrumental tie or a female with a multiplex tie, and for both men and women, instrumental ties with women are low on the preference hierarchy. ^ This dissertation contributes to research on personal networks because it highlights the complex psychology that drive network preferences regarding gender-based homophily, status and relationship type. It also offers methodological contributions in that all the studies utilized an experimental design where organizational composition constraints were eliminated and key variables were manipulated to establish causality.^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Sociology, Organizational

Recommended Citation

Monica Mullick Stallings, "Reaching up: The influence of gender, status, and relationship type on men's and women's network preferences" (January 1, 2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3431176.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3431176

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