Research was undertaken in the U.S. at the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, which examined 700 past graduate students of both genders. The study analysed their social and communication networks on three bases: network centrality or the size of the social network; gender homophily or the proportion of same-sex contacts; and communication equality or the amount of strong versus weak network ties.
What they uncovered was that more than 75 per cent of female graduates who had same-sex friendship groups of two or three close friends at work went on to land top-level roles in their workplace.
“Women with a network centrality in the top quartile and a female-dominated inner circle have an expected job placement level that is 2.5 times greater than women with low centrality and a male-dominated inner circle,” the study found.
Men with broad friendship networks within the workforce were also more likely to hold high-ranking positions in their companies, but the gender of their friendships were not a contributing factor. "The same factors -- communication patterns and gender composition of a social network -- have no significant effect for men landing high-ranking positions," noted the study’s co-author Nitesh V. Chawla.
And yes, ‘who you know’ still holds true. The study found that women who discussed their career aspirations and job possibilities with other women were more likely to be successful when job hunting and negotiating.
The study’s other co-author Brian Uzzi told the Harvard Business Review, "... because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not, they benefit from an inner circle of close female contacts that can share private information about things like an organization’s attitudes toward female leaders, which helps strengthen women’s job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.”
So go ahead and work on those work-wife friendships ladies, because they’re going to take you places.