Is the old boys club still alive in the #MeToo era?

How can managers ensure equal growth opportunities for women and men?

Is the old boys club still alive in the #MeToo era?

Whether it’s at a working lunch or during a late-night happy hour, buddying up with the boss still influences the career progression of men and women differently. Often, women are at the losing end, new research suggests.

Men typically reap the benefits of befriending their managers, and this happens more so when the manager is also male, a study from the US National Bureau of Economic Research showed.

Such benefit can come in the form of a salary increase or a step up the corporate ladder, the researchers said.

READ MORE: 'I like my women like I like my Starbucks Coffee'

Locked out of opportunities
The situation is different for most women, however. Four in five female workers (81%) believe they are locked out of opportunities to establish rapport with their boss during social gatherings at work.

This, in turn, limits the quality time women share with potential mentors and backers in the workplace – in other words, the very people who can vouch for them when they are under consideration for a promotion or pay raise.

Working women experience the same pace and level of career advancement 1) regardless if their boss was a man or woman and 2) whether they made the effort to befriend their boss.

Women’s attempts at socialising with their superiors don’t necessarily result in career progression as often as men’s efforts do, according to study co-author Ricardo Perez-Truglia of the University of California Los Angeles.

Even as women strive to break the glass ceiling, the tendency of male managers and male employees to form stronger social bonds at work continues to set female employees at a disadvantage, Perez-Truglia told

“Two years after transitioning to a male manager, male employees ended up with 13% higher pay,” Perez-Truglia said.

Mentorship in the #MeToo era
The results of the study add to the growing literature about women’s experiences in the corporate world in light of the #MeToo movement.

READ MORE: Mentorship is crucial in the #MeToo era

Apart from forming ‘emotional attachments’ with other men, as Perez-Truglia observed, 60% of male managers also report feeling uncomfortable mentoring female employees, a 2019 study by Lean In and Survey Monkey revealed.

This hesitation, the study found, poses another danger: more women end up facing additional barriers to their professional growth.

“Whether this is driven by sexism or because men (perhaps unconsciously) gravitate toward helping other men, the result is that women miss out,” the analysts said.

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