New girls networks’ are challenging the traditional power of some of the most established old boy networks such as the senior civil service, according to a Demos report ‘Girlfriends in High Places’. The research from five government departments and Norman Broadbent, a recruitment consultancy – shows how men rely on informal networks to help them to operate inside organisational hierarchies such as the civil service. Women are often effectively excluded from informal networks at work because they don’t engage in small-talk about football which enables men to bond before meetings, nor are they around for pub trips because of working flexible hours.The report argues that the growth in women’s professional networks, including one for senior female civil servants, has the potential to change work place culture in a way that benefits women. Women’s professional networks counter gender inequality by connecting their members. Of the members of women’s professional networks surveyed in the report, 87% said that the fact they were women-only made them attractive. The report suggests we could be entering a new era of work-based ‘networked feminism’ which is better suited to today’s complex gender politics where women have to juggle many different personal and professional identities.
Girlfriends in High Places: How women’s networks are changing the workplace is published by Demos. Available at: http://www.demos.co.uk/