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Reaching for the Stars: How Gender Influences the Formation of High-Status Collaboration Ties
2022, Academy of Management Journal
Research Methods
Research Design
LongitudinalTheoretical Perspectives
Social capital theory
Topic Areas
Demography & Diversity in Organizations
Research Methods
Network analysis
Extant research has shown that it is harder for women than for men to form high-status connections in the workplace. Extending this line of research, we examine how two structural factors – geographic and network proximity – affect men’s and women’s chances of forming high-status connections. Using data on the formation of collaboration ties with star scientists within the R&D laboratories of the forty-two largest pharmaceutical companies between 1985 and 2010, we show that women who are geographically co-located with a “star” colleague are less likely to form a tie with that colleague than male peers who are similarly co-located, and this difference persists irrespective of the star’s gender. Conversely, women benefit more than men do from network proximity, as indicated by the presence of common third-party ties, and this difference widens if the star colleague is also a woman. By illuminating how geographic and network proximity affect the chances of forming high-status connections differently for women than for men, our study goes beyond the notion that women have reduced access to workplace social capital and expands consideration to the structural factors that underpin – amplify or reduce – that disadvantage.

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