|OP7: Women only networks: Four Case Studies|
|Friday, 04 June 2010|
Social networks, both official and unofficial, are an important part of the working environment and one of the main channels through which knowledge about the world of work is passed on. They may offer support, that is the ‘expressive’ function, involving friendship and trust (Ibarra, 1993, Perriton, 2006), and they may be ‘instrumental’, that is intended to promote work contacts that will benefit the working practices of members of the network. Most offer some combination of the two. Perriton (2006) sees the instrumental functions epitomized in the exchange of business cards. Networks at work are often identified with the ‘old boys’ network’ and linked with male privilege. To some extent women only networks in the working environment have been set up to counter the perceived advantages that men are thought to derive from networking and this paper concerns four such networks. Women only groups are not perceived as being as powerful as their male counterparts because of entrenched male advantage in the work place.
This paper builds on related work and presents a brief review of literature on networking, four illustrative case studies of women only networks and then applies a framework derived from the literature to the four case studies.