According to Nancy Berkley, president of Berkley Golf consulting, women golfers make up 23 percent of the total adult golfers in the U.S. Golf is also considered a past time that is excellent to partake with business partners, clients and peers because of the networking potential it provides (Trust me, it is not as easy to network while playing basketball or hockey.). However, it seems that businesswomen who golf are at a disadvantage when compared to their male counterparts—they have hit what researchers from the University of Mexico are calling a “grass ceiling.”
The study, titled “The Impact of Gender-Differentiated Golf Course Structure on Women’s Networking Abilities,” was presented at the annual Academy of Management meeting in August 2008 and found that “the greater the distance between tee boxes [for men and women], the fewer women there will be in management and marketing in that geographic locale and the less money those women will make.”
The researchers—Michelle M. Arthur, Robert Del Campo and Harry J. Van Buren III— gathered tee distance data from 455 golf courses across all 50 states, with each golf course being linked to a specific census locale. On average, women’s tee boxes are approximately 50 yards closer to the hole than men’s tee boxes.
So what does this all mean?
The researchers feel that there are two reasons for the correlation of golf tee distance to women’s career success. I’ll start with the second reason: According to the researchers, “If on average the women’s tees are far away from the men’s tees, this may portray a negative belief about the golfing abilities of women—and perhaps by extension negative beliefs about other abilities. Significant differences in the placements between men and women may reinforce biases against women, not just on physical terms, but also intellectual terms.”
Now, to me that sounds like a bit of a stretch, but their first reason for the correlation is stronger by far. If the tees are farther apart, it is more likely that men will take one golf cart and ride together to their tee box, while the women in the group will ride together to their tee box, closer to the green. Thus, the women miss out on the networking possibilities that usually take place “during the idle time in the cart and waiting at the starting tee boxes to tee off.”
I find this fascinating, and not completely far-fetched. What do you think?