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Homophily and Differential Returns: Sex Differences in Network Structure and Access in an Advertising Firm

Herminia Ibarra
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1992), pp. 422-447
DOI: 10.2307/2393451
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393451
Page Count: 26
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Homophily and Differential Returns: Sex Differences in Network Structure and Access in an Advertising Firm
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Abstract

This paper argues that two network mechanisms operate to create and reinforce gender inequalities in the organizational distribution of power: sex differences in homophily (i.e., tendency to form same-sex network relationships) and in the ability to convert individual attributes and positional resources into network advantages. These arguments were tested in a network analytic study of men's and women's interaction patterns in an advertising firm. Men were more likely to form homophilous ties across multiple networks and to have stronger homophilous ties, while women evidenced a differentiated network pattern in which they obtained social support and friendship from women and instrumental access through network ties to men. Although centrality in organization-wide networks did not vary by sex once controls were instituted, relative to women, men appeared to reap greater network returns from similar individual and positional resources, as well as from homophilous relationships.

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