Double-Penalty of Married Working Women's Professional Networking

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Professional networking refers to employees’ actions that help create and maintain social ties in support of task and professional goals, such as attending social functions, participating in parties and banquets, and going out for drinks after work (Casicaro et al., 2014; Kuwabara et al., 2018). Professional networking is essential for working people to succeed and thrive (e.g., Byham, 2009; Cross & Thomas, 2011; Kay, 2010), because it facilitates creating a system of information, advice, contacts, and support (Bensaou et al., 2014; Whiting & de Janasz, 2004). Compared with men, women tend to benefit less from professional networking (e.g., Forret & Dougherty, 2004; Yang, Chawla, & Uzzi, 2019). In the workplace, women face inhibiting forces such as exclusion from critical social ties dominated by men (Ibarra, 1992, 1993), homophily (Blau, 1977; Ibarra, 1992), network closure (Lutter, 2015) or biased scrutinization by the networks they seek to join (Lyness & Thompson, 2000). Departing from previous studies’ focus on barriers in the work domain, we theorize that married women’s professional networking may provoke inhibiting forces in the family domain, as professional networking inevitably permeates the boundary between work and family domains.

    Social role theory (Eagly, 1987; Eagly & Wood, 1999, 2012) suggests that women are expected to fill domestic labor and caretaking roles. Prioritizing networking for professional development to domestic works may violate such role expectations for married women and cause them to incur, what we call, a double penalty: they may feel guilty about not fulfilling their gender role, while their spouse resent their efforts to advance their career at the expense of family duties. According to family-work spillover research (e.g., Tang, Huang, & Wang, 2017; Lv, Huang, Xu, & Chung, 2020), married women’s emotional exhaustion at home caused by this double penalty may deter future networking and impair job performance.

    We further propose that the double penalty on married women’s professional networking may hinge on women’s and their spouses’ gender role orientation. When both hold an egalitarian gender role belief (i.e., men and women should contribute equally to both work and family), the double penalty is likely to be attenuated. We will design an intervention procedure to alter people’s gender role orientation and use a field experiment to test its validity, which we hope, will be applied in organizations. We will test these ideas progressively using two survey-based studies and one field experiment study.

    Effective start/end date1/01/2230/06/24


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