Purpose: Gender analyses of social capital. Originality: A unique relational data is used for the research. Key literature / theoretical perspective: This study critically analyses the concept of social capital, which provides a simplistic view of the role of social networks and links it with positive outcomes without accounting for issues of gender. Using social network analysis we reveal the limitations of social capital in the patriarchal society of Bangladesh. Design/methodology/approach: This research takes a quantitative approach by employing tools of social network analysis. Findings: Consistent with the social capital literature the results show that women are more likely to use contraceptives if they are connected to other users. However one of the main factors determining women’s contraceptive use is not social capital but the preference for a male child. Furthermore, as compared to men, female networks are more likely to encourage behavioural conformity in the choice of contraceptive method. Thus incorporating gender into the analysis reveals the limited and contradictory nature of social capital. Research limitations/implications: This research is unable to control for selectivity bias. Practical and Social implications: The results show that social capital networks are important source of information for women. However the benefits are likely to be limited unless the broader gender norms are addressed in developing countries.