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Patterns of online networking for women's career development

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to investigate how women working in science, engineering and technology use online networking, for career and professional development purposes. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A combined qualitative and quantitative approach is taken, using interviews for the first phase of the research and online surveys for the second. The findings are discussed and presented with reference to theories on career development and in the context of recent work on women's networks and online social networking. Findings ‐ The paper defines a typology of online networks and identifies the motives women have for engaging with the different types. The data imply that women are successfully using online networks to find support, advice and collaboration from women working in similar environments. However, the data only identify a few examples where the use of online networks has led to a specific new job opportunity. Research limitations/implications ‐ The findings are limited by the samples used, as they were self-selected. In the first phase of the research, the sample was biased in favour of those using information and communication technologies. In the second phase, women using some form of online network were purposefully targeted in order to understand the motives and benefits associated with these activities. Originality/value ‐ The paper provides new insights into how professional women are networking online. It extends recent work into women's networks and networking strategies and presents a timely exploration into how these are being affected by the growth of online social networking.
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Keywords: Career development; Internet; Networking; Social networks; Women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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