Men vs. Women

Women generally form tight bonds with a consistent group of people. Friends they’ll always call, someone they’ll always rely on, the same group of ladies they’ll meet for brunch at least twice a month. Their social network is small but strong, and the connection is deep.

Men, on the other hand, have much larger social networks. Acquaintances made from networking, a game of pickup basketball, etc. They’re quick to become beer buddies with a dude they’d met at a baseball game the other week. Their networks are much wider, but less deep.

Because of this, men are better equipped to receive career opportunities and referrals. This article (although not my original source, which I do not recall) explains it well, but essentially, the conclusion is that professional referrals are more dependent on shallow networks – by count, you are more likely to draw from a long list of people you know just well enough who won’t harm your reputation. It doesn’t take a lot to be forwarded an internal posting, believe me, especially in the private sector. Beyond reading articles on excelling as a woman in the workplace, I can anecdotally attest to this from my own set of friends.

Now, as for me, I’m a great networker. Not “for a woman”. I’m a great networker. Period.

I spoke to this a lot in my earlier posts when I first started this blog. I wasn’t always this way – I was an introvert deep in my comfort zone but forced myself into the uncomfortable process of becoming a professional networker out of necessity.

My success in becoming one is certainly somehow linked to being fine with having a wide but sparse network. Like men, I cast my net far and wide, but only have a few core people (“confidantes”, I’ve been calling them here) who I can personally trust. I’m fine with having many, weak relationships (I got comfortable with it as I began rapidly developing my professional network) but never invested too much time in building a consistent circle of friends. I’m lucky to have the planners.

To make things more complicated, my interests are all over the place – I’ve never met anyone with the same collective set of interests and tastes as me. Take my music taste for example: my favourite bands are Nine Inch Nails, Lady Gaga, the Zolas, and I’ve been getting into some Carly Rae Jepsen recently. I’m also always down for Ace of Base and Venga Boys (mostly when I’m drunk), but I also know every lyric to Dance by Nicki Minaj and Big Sean (I’m not proud).

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t have a typically-female social network, nor a social network that encompasses my own interests.

Anyway, this was a long, roundabout way of explaining why I feel like I don’t fit in any one place.



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