Purpose: To discuss the efficacy of conducting qualitative interviews, as part of a case study methodology to examine how absences from the work force may affect key work relationships and access to critical career networks. Originality: This research will move away from the traditional focus on human capital factors such as skills, education and experience, when assessing the lack of women in senior positions, and be the first study to examine the decay or deterioration of key relationships and levels of social capital for women after absences from the workplace in Australia. Research Design: Two organisations that differ in the number of women in senior management and at board level will be examined as case studies. Qualitative interviews will enable the collection of in-depth information about true experience, perceptions and behaviour of their employees. Research implications: This research will shed light on barriers and facilitators that affect women’s pursuit of senior management positions through their access to critical career networks and the subsequent building of social capital and its outcomes. Practical & social implications: This study will contribute to a greater understanding of the sociological factors that facilitate or hinder women’s access to board and executive roles. Identifying these factors will provide a basis for change at lower levels of the organisation where a significant drop-out rate of women occurs.