It's nearly Labor Day and earth shattering business news is rather thin on the ground. So this Swedish study probably got more of my attention than would it would typically, due to the headline "How Baby Fever Spreads Through Offices". But a deeper look at the study reveals some insights that are important for leaders keen to attract and retain gender diversity at its most senior levels.
The study analyzes trends in fertility amongst co-workers, and finds that women who's colleagues have given birth are more likely to have babies themselves within a certain time period.
One of the most interesting insights of the study (in my only-cursory read of it so far) is how this gives an perspective on career paths of women.
"Many observers have claimed that (the lack of) female role models in leading positions are important for women's own propensity to consider similar career paths. Our findings suggesting that female employees are influenced by their female co-workers but not by their male co-workers lend some indirect support for these claims."
The study went on to say,
"If career and family choices have a tendency to spread within networks...then such peer effects may be very important for understanding observed differences between men's and women's individual career choices and the organization of work and family".
Corporations struggle to help women strike the right balance, and can lose talented women along the way. A more sophisticated understanding of the workplace culture and how it influences our entire lives is much needed.
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