Women as Brokers

I think this study about gender bias among networkers in business is important for food system employers and boards to think about, since so many women are in the position of acting as a “broker” in our sector. I have seen female market managers and other food system connectors perceived negatively by their community when discussing the role of active networking or advisor, while seeing men described as competent for managing the same activities.

Normally, women are thought to excel in the social realm — so you would think that they would be seen as good work brokers, the researchers said. But “despite the widespread notion of women as social specialists, perceptions of the network position of women will be distorted because of the expectation that brokerage is man’s work,” they wrote.

Much of this distortion may be below the level of conscious awareness, Professor Brands says, and simply bringing it to employees’ attention could help minimize the reputational bias that women incur at work.

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pubsonline.informs.org/doi/pdf/10.1287/orsc.2013.0880.

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