Women continue to be underrepresented in senior corporate leadership roles in the United States. For meaningful change to occur, women and leaders in their organizations must work together to confront the issues underlying women's lack of career progress and develop strategies to facilitate women's advancement. This study engaged organizational leaders, women's network leaders, and women's network members in an exploration of the merits of one career development strategy frequently employed by large organizations: the formation of company-sponsored women's networks. This study was grounded in feminist case methodology and the prevailing literature on women's networks in organizations and women's career development and advancement. The guiding question in this study was, "How does involvement in a formal women's network affect members' career advancement and the success of their sponsoring organization?" Study results confirm that participating in a women's network can positively impact women's career success, but advancement as a result of involvement may be limited. Network leaders and members were more likely than organizational leaders to believe the network could directly affect members' advancement. Several strategies to increase the likelihood of advancement through a women's network are discussed. The network's efforts to support women's career success were identified by the participants as primary means of organizational success. The conclusions and recommendations presented are directed toward professional women and organizational leaders who are interested in learning about the role and value of women's networks in organizations.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2014. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: Dr. Rebecca Ropers-Huilman, Dr. Louis Quast. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 219 pages, appendices A-F.
Rand, Sarah Jane.
How do women's networks affect women's career advancement and the success of their sponsoring organization ?.
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