Editor’s Note: This article is originally from January 2020 and has since been updated.
One determined woman is a force to be reckoned with, no doubt. However, there is power in numbers, and the energy exuding from a band of strong and determined women is a force to be reckoned with. In a group where there is no jealousy, envy, disguised hatred, backbiting, toxicity or malice, women thrive, glow, and shine like the stars they were born to be.
Recent research conducted by a group of social scientists suggests that women thrive better in their careers when they are supported by a strong circle of female friends . Published in the Harvard Business Review, the study was based on data from 4.5 million email correspondences from 728 MBA (Masters of Business of Administration) graduates . There were 74.5% men and 25.5% women. The researchers analyzed the different types of social networks beneficial to the success of either gender.
They found that while men mostly need centrality (connections to multi-gender hubs) to access better-paying jobs and top leadership positions, women tend to succeed more when they have a strong inner circle of female contacts. A good reason is that women face more cultural and political challenges in the labor-market such as gender bias and unconscious underestimation. Having a group of female friends to fall back on for advice and support can help a woman steer her way through such obstacles and snag the right opportunities.
“Women who were in the top quartile of centrality and had a female-dominated inner circle of 1-3 women landed leadership positions that were 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers lacking this combination,” Uzzi wrote. “While women who had networks that most resembled those of successful men (i.e., centrality but no female inner circle) placed into leadership positions that were among the lowest in authority and pay.”
The study also discovered that women in leadership positions who have centrality in their social networks but no inner circle of female friends are more likely to have the lowest authority and pay. Women who fraternize closely with their gender tend to be more confident, assertive, and less-affected by masculine intimidation.
“Women’s success also depended on a certain kind of inner circle,” Uzzi wrote. “The best inner circles for women were those in which the women were closely connected to each other but had minimal contacts in common. For example, if Jane is a second-year MBA student whose inner circle includes classmates Mary, Cindy, and Reshma, but these three women each have networks with few overlapping contacts, then Jane will benefit not only from her three inner-circle-mates but also their non-overlapping contacts.”
Women need to network smarter, not harder. An ambitious woman would do better to create strong bonds and link up with other visionary women. These networks lead to concatenated chains of success and unrivaled connections.
A 2016 study published in the journal Cancer suggests that women have better chances of surviving cancer when they had more social connections . The study was based on information retrieved from 9,267 women who have been diagnosed with several forms of cancer in different stages. The researchers discovered that women who had very little or no social connections were:
- 43% more likely to have a breast cancer recurrence
- 64% more likely to die from breast cancer
- 69% more likely to die from any cause
In the words of American researcher Steve Maraboli, “Friends are medicine for a wounded heart and vitamins for a hopeful soul.” We tend to have better health with higher chances of surviving serious issues when we are well-connected to groups of loving friends and family.
While the study is in no way suggesting that women cannot excel without female friends, we can’t deny the fact that these connections are necessary. Ladies, it’s never too late to create new girl tribes and form solid bonds of friendship. There’s this warm feeling of togetherness and strength that buzzes in the air when you celebrate a win over champagne with your girls. Group text or calls are always a delight because no matter what happens thereafter, good friends will always walk in when the rest of the world walks out.
Keep Reading: There’s A Haunting Memorial In Turkey To Commemorate 440 Women Killed By Their Own Husbands Last Year
- Heidi Lux. Women do better when they have a group of strong female friends, study finds. Upworthy. https://www.upworthy.com/women-female-friends-more-successful. Retrieved 27-12-19
- Brian Uzzi. Research: Men and Women Need Different Kinds of Networks to Succeed. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/02/research-men-and-women-need-different-kinds-of-networks-to-succeed. Retrieved 27-12-19
- Women With More Social Connections Have Better Survival. Breast Cancer. https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/social-connections-linked-to-better-survival. Retrieved 27-12-19