Study on female executives and golf divides opinion

Study on female executives and golf divides opinion

A study suggesting female executives miss out on networking opportunities if they do not play golf has divided opinion online.

The research, which was partly motivated by previous studies that suggested golf is the number one informal networking tool from which women feel excluded, took place in 2020 but gained traction recently after articles by the Wall Street Journal and CBS News.

Analyzing 100 articles from the last 20 years on women, golf and networking, the study found that such are the professional benefits of golf, women who choose not to play are at a disadvantage.

Deborah Gray, a professor of marketing at Central Michigan University and one of the 2020 study's co-authors, told CBS MoneyWatch: “A misconception is that a lot of hard selling goes on on the golf course and that's not accurate. It's developing the relationship and understanding who a person is and getting to know them.

“Relationship-building and being able to spend quality time with a person is really important, and golf is so conducive to doing business because you can eat, drink and chit-chat. You can't do that over a basketball game or spinning or yoga.”

The study has attracted both support and criticism.

When the Wall Street Journal shared its article ‘Why More Female Executives Don’t Play Golf—and Why That’s a Problem’, one response pointed out that women often have unequal access to leisure time, and instead of encouraging women to conform to traditional practices, organisations should be investigating how to create new ones to support modern lifestyles.


However, others agreed golf is an available asset that more women – and men – should use to network with co-workers and clients.

Rebecca Davies, Head of Client Solutions at Moving Ahead, which aims to advance workplace diversity, equity and inclusion, told Syngenta Golf: “It’s no secret that many business deals are done on the golf course and, anecdotally at least, many executives report that playing golf can further career aspirations.

“There are so many factors that contribute to women’s ability to progress their careers (or not) at an equal rate to men. One of the reasons golf is cited as playing a role in career progression is that it creates an opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with individuals, which is pretty unique nowadays.

“We know that the ability to build networks, gain sponsorship and access strong mentors is vital to progression, and this is why at Moving Ahead we create specific cross-company programmes that offer this one-to-one time in a powerful way.”

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