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Vol. 36 (2016)

The Influence of Online Social Capital On Women's Career Change

  • Diana Maguire
June 14, 2017


Women seeking to manage their careers have faced numerous challenges for decades. The influence of social capital on women's careers has been a concern of researchers, particularly within the contexts of women's underrepresentation in businesses' higher organizational ranks and societal expectations for women. This research builds on previous career studies and improves the understanding of women's career changes with consideration of their social capital behaviors online. The two research questions in the study are: To what degree does online social capital impact women's ability to make desired career changes in business? To what degree do workingwomen view online social networking platforms as a viable means to develop and maintain social capital? In phase one, a quantitative study was conducted via an online survey of over two hundred women working within nearly fifty companies in a southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania region. In phase two, follow-up qualitative questions were asked of an age-stratified sample of women working in the region. The findings suggest that women's use of direct communications channels online is associated with developing and maintaining professional network contacts. Women in the study indicated a limited use and perception of social media tools for developing social capital. Factors including age and field of work were found to impact women's use of social media professionally as well. Future implications suggest investigating the activities women use to develop and maintain their career-related social capital networks over time to identify potential shifts in behavior or social media acceptance.

Keywords: career change; social capital; online networking, social media, women in business; women's careers.