Workplaces really ARE sexist: Women who try to network with their superiors to get ahead are belittled by colleagues, study shows – but no one minds when men do the same

  • Women who network with ‘high status’ individuals at work end up being viewed negatively by their co-workers, a new study has found
  • Networking to get ahead in a career is helpful advice for men, but can be detrimental to women, according to research by Siyu Yu and Catherine Shea

Women who network with high-status individuals at work end up being viewed negatively by their co-workers, a new study has found.

Although the professional saying goes: network to get ahead; the advice applies to men but can be detrimental to women, according to research by Siyu Yu and Catherine Shea.

“When women form instrumental networks with higher-status coworkers, other coworkers react negatively—but not to men—due to stereotypes and biases about how women should behave,” the assistant professors said. written in the Wall Street Journal.

“This backlash causes the women to lose status in the eyes of others,” the two explained.

The findings are reminiscent of the plot of the hit HBO show sequel – where media mogul Logan Roy’s daughter Shiv was constantly mocked for trying to take over from her father, while scheming brother Kendall got a much easier ride .

Previous research has tended to focus on the success of men and professional networks.

Kendall and Shiv Roy of Succession.  The boisterous eldest son was given an easier ride by dad Logan for much of the series - while Shiv was mocked and belittled when she put herself forward to take over the family businesses

Kendall and Shiv Roy of Succession. The boisterous eldest son was given an easier ride by dad Logan for much of the series – while Shiv was mocked and belittled when she put herself forward to take over the family businesses

Catherine Shea is an assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University

Catherine Shea is an assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University

Siyu Yu is an assistant professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan

Siyu Yu is an assistant professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan

One such study found basketball coaches who were vocal about their connections with elite coaches more likely to be hired through a story basketball program.

In Yu and Shea’s study, three field sites in China were studied and more than 2,000 American adults were surveyed to examine how people view men and women whose networks are filled with high-status individuals.

Each participant was asked to evaluate how much respect, admiration and influence each other co-worker has in their units, and to identify their personal networks.

A person’s status was calculated as an average of the ratings they received from all others.

Women who built networks full of high-status contacts lost status among their peers over time, instead of receiving a status boost.

The opposite results were reflected for men in the study.

“People generally dislike dominant and ambitious female leaders, research shows,” write Yu, an assistant professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan and Shea, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at the Carnegie Mellon University.

Feminine stereotypes say that women – more than men – should put the needs of the group and others above their own self-interest’, they explained.

“Thus, we infer that people suspect that a female whose network centers on high-status individuals is gathering resources for herself at the expense of others in the group.”