Boys club referrals limit female success

Australian business women believe male-dominated referral networks are one of the biggest barriers to their success, a new survey has found.

Boys club referrals limit female success

Some 60% of professional Australian women believe they are locked out of advancing into executive roles because of a ‘boys club’ mentality.

The latest survey from Executive Women Australia (EWA) found women believe male-dominated referral networks are rife, and are the biggest barriers to future success.

“Usually because of the fact the other people in the [executive] roles are men, they are referring men,” EWA director Tara Cheesman commented. She added that executive positions became vacant every three years on average, and leaders tend to look internally or to their networks to fill roles. “When the boss comes and says 'Do you know somebody great for this job?' they think 'If I can do this job, he can do it. If I get along with this person, he will fit in at work too',” Cheesman said.

The EWA director didn’t believe it’s a case of men deliberately sidelining women – rather men with male friends in the same field frequently structure their relationship around helping each other with their careers. “A lot of men don't see themselves as the person who's going to help their female friends in their career,” she said.

According to the survey findings, which canvassed the opinions of 500 EWA members, women also believe men are better self-promoters than women, and that many ASX 500 employers haven't had female executives previously. Of ASX 500 companies, currently just one third have a female executive at board level.

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