Social capital, gender and careers: evidence from retail senior managers


Broadbridge A (2010) Social capital, gender and careers: evidence from retail senior managers. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 29 (8), pp. 815-834.

Purpose - The article aims to show how using the framework of social capital can be useful in understanding the careers of senior retail managers. Design/methodology/approach - A qualitative research design in the form of 17 biographical interviews with 11 men and six women was adopted to understand the perceived influence and active involvement of social capital factors in retail career development at senior levels. Findings - Men and women were equally aware of the importance of accumulating social capital factors for career development purposes, although they considered that the accumulation of human capital factors to be crucial in their own career development. Evidence indicated that women and men had benefited from borrowing social capital early in their career. However, having reached senior status the ways and reasons women accumulate social capital seemingly differ from the men's. Overall, men acquired social capital and used networking techniques more strategically and instrumentally than the women with regard to career development purposes. Senior women talked about engaging in expressive networks for social support and to overcome macho cultures. Research limitations/implications - The research is limited to 17 qualitative interviews and so cannot be generalised to the wider population. Rather, it is intended to instigate debate over the importance of social capital in careers. Practical implications - The findings imply that gender impacts access to and accumulation of social capital for career development purposes. It highlights issues that need to be explored in more detail so as to enable a more complete understanding of the factors important for people's careers. Originality/value - The paper contributes to an understanding of men's and women's career development in relation to social capital, an area that has received limited attention in the human resource and retail fields.

Career development; Gender; Managers; Retail trade; Social capital

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal: Volume 29, Issue 8

Publication date31/12/2010