Network Recruitment and the Glass Ceiling: Evidence from Two Firms


Published: 23Apr2019

Authors: Roberto M. Fernandez and Brian Rubineau

Publication: RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, March 2019, Vol. 5, Issue 3, 88-102


Does network recruitment contribute to the glass ceiling? We use administrative data from two companies to answer the question. In the presence of gender homophily, recruitment through employee referrals can disadvantage women when an old boys’ network is in place. We calculate the segregating effects of network recruitment across multiple job levels in the two firms. If network recruitment is a factor, the segregating impact should disadvantage women more at higher levels. We find this pattern, but also find that network recruitment is a desegregating force overall. It promotes women’s representation strongly at all levels, but less so at higher levels. This article shows how administrative data can be used to tackle the complex problem of gender inequality in organizations to counter the glass ceiling.