Who is more connected when it comes to networking on Madison Avenue, men or women? According to a new study by professional networking site LinkedIn, it's the former.
That's in line with the study's finding that men overall are savvier networkers than women. LinkedIn defines networking "savviness" as the ratio of connections that men have to those women have, and the ratio of male to female members on LinkedIn.
Other industries where men outpace women in networking included medicine, hospital and health care, law enforcement, capital markets, and even cosmetics, despite women outnumbering men in that business. Men working at Mary Kay, for instance, are "way more" active in networking than women at the cosmetics giant.
But there were some unexpected areas in which women proved better networkers, including tobacco and "ranching." (Even ranchers need to network online.) LinkedIn's analytics team surmised that might be because women have to network more aggressively to break into male-dominated industries.
Women also outdid men in fields including alternative dispute resolution, alternative medicine and international trade and development. Some professional categories are gender-neutral when it comes to networking. These include dairy, individual and family services, market research, media production, and paper and forest products. Comcast is among the companies where men and women are equally networking-savvy.
"Women can sometimes shy away from networking because they associate it with schmoozing or doling out business cards, when in reality, it's about building relationships before you actually need them," said Nicole Williams, connection director at LinkedIn, and author of the book "Girl on Top."
Other studies, however, suggest women are at least as active, if not more so, in social networking online as men. According to a comScore study last year, "Women on the Web: How Women are Shaping the Internet," social sites reach a higher percentage of women than men globally, with 75.8% of all women online visiting a social networking site in May 2010 versus 69.7% of men.
The study found women spend significantly more time on social networking sites than men, with women averaging 5.5 hours per month compared to men's 4 hours.
In its study, LinkedIn did not provide any data on gender differences in time spent or other interactions on the site. But it did show there can be differences in networking-savvy by country, even within the same industry. So among advertising and marketing professionals in India, women tend to have more LinkedIn connections than men.