What We Know For Sure: More Women Networking Would Be Better For All

Ava Parker, president of Palm Beach State College, (third from left) says that women networking with women helps you get the job done. [bctt tweet=“Women networking with other women is essential to move ahead #25not95”]How does she know?Well, She Knows, the new multi-platform digital media company with 81 million unique monthly visitors, apparently knows from a recent study of 1,622 of their online users that most of the respondents said they find issues at work because they are women. And women networking can definitely help.According to the story in ADWEEK, ““Sixty-one percent of all women said that they’ve had their ideas overlooked, and 57 percent said that they are not paid equally as men for equal work. Another 25 percent of women said that having a child negatively impacted their career, and 30 percent had a tough time getting back into the workforce after staying home to raise their kids.”SheKnows is in the business of branded content and online courses, among other offerings. And women want content, not stories that are gendered necessarily, but content that is authentic and reflective of their lives.According to ADWEEK: “I get asked all the time about what’s the secret to making viral content. The secret, in my opinion, is that it needs to be real,” said Naama Bloom, SheKnows’ svp of integrated marketing and co-founder of HelloFlo. “My content generally reflects my voice and the way I speak to my friends, the way that I speak to my husband, the way that I speak to my children.”Women’s voices are literally not reflected in music, and in the music industry at the top, according to a recent study by the Ontario Media Development Corporation. This is problematic on many levels; the most important may be that it blocks access to other women networking.According to Olivia Diamond Munn in FYIMusicNews, the study “reveals that only half of the province’s music companies have a female presence in the board room. So what does it take to be a successful female executive in the music business in 2016? At a CMW panel entitled Power Playing: Advice From the Top Women In Music For The Emerging Generation, Samantha Slattery, founder and executive director of Women in Music Canada” offered several tips that all women can take to heart in any industry.Quoted in FYIMusicNews, Slattery offered this advice:

  • Network relentlessly, in person and outside of your social circle.
  • ·Communicate openly about what you want and what you want to accomplish.
  • ·Be willing to accomplish and excel at tasks that may be below your expertise or skill level.
  • ·Enlist the help of one or more mentors, and be able to offer them something in return.
  • ·Love being underestimated, as it’s an opportunity to prove the quality of your work.
  • ·Go beyond your comfort zone and do things that scare you.
  • ·Know your value and what you can offer in terms of return on investment for your employer. Use this information to negotiate a fair wage.

While networking is Slattery’s first piece of advice, having the opportunity for women networking with each other is easier said than done.Writing in Business2Community, Fabiola Stein, Sage’s Global Head of Marketing for Sage One, a cloud accounting and invoicing app for small businesses, says networks for women are not as deep and strong and time-tested as they are for men.“It is my experience that women do not have access to the same extended (and rich!) support networks of mentors and peers that men enjoy. Because of this, their businesses and opportunities for professional growth are less likely to thrive and prosper. While much has been made about the lack of opportunities for women in STEM, the struggle is real for all women in virtually every industry and in every kind of business capacity—from entrepreneurs to those in the corporate space and beyond,” Stein writes.So to solve the mentoring and women networking problem, women can simply start by reaching out to help and mentor other women, Stein writes.“The gender gap—in corporations, small businesses, or otherwise—isn’t going away, nor will it get better without our continued effort. It’s time for all women (especially those who are finding success in business and can use their experience to support others) to pay attention and actively create opportunities for positive change. It’s something that can make a huge difference. In a recent study, researchers found that the increased presences of local female leaders helped to raise the career aspirations and educational performance of young women—effectively erasing the gender gap for both.”Networking with purpose is a core mission for Take The Lead.Working mothers are having a difficult time networking and managing to run a business after starting a family. Working moms also face challenges seeing other women do motherhood and entrepreneurship both successfully, according to Fast Company.Lydia Dishma writes, “The challenges are the focus of a new Kauffman Foundation report titled ‘Labor after Labor’ that breaks down how mothers who are entrepreneurs are being prevented from reaching their full economic potential.”The lack of mentorship is a problem for mom business owners as well. Dishma quotes the report: “Many additional challenges exist for mother entrepreneurs, including increased work-family conflict, cognitive biases, and lack of mentorship and social capital.“She continues, “The Kauffman report also recommends changes to public policies for working mothers, increasing paid parental leave, particularly for fathers, restructuring workweeks for more flexible hours, increasing mentorship, and a greater celebration of women’s entrepreneurship. They write: ‘As our society shifts to embrace more nontraditional work, we look forward to both policy and practice creating the space for mother entrepreneurs to succeed.’“Women in architecture are also in sore need of role models and women in the field to emulate. They need more women networking in the profession.Marianne Kwok, a  director at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and design team leader for the Hudson Yards project in Manhattan, the largest private development in U.S. history, writes in The Guardian: “There are many initiatives against gender parity at architecture school. But the issue isn’t getting women in architecture, but rather getting them to stay. To achieve this, it’s important to have equal voices across the involved groups in design and construction including the clients, engineers and city planners.”Kwok adds, “We need multiple narratives for the successful female architect. Similar to the partnerships that founded tech companies or scientists working together towards research goals, architecture is collaborative.”[bctt tweet=“Women networking with other women is essential to move ahead #25not95”]Speaking at a recent Becoming a Woman of Influence event at the University of Florida, Kirsten Flanik, president at BBDO New York, said, “finding who to reach out to up and down the corporate ladder can be challenging. A mentor has to find you, Flanik said.According to Ariella Phillips writing in PopSugar:  “You get a mentor not by asking but by impressing,” Flanik said.Also speaking at the conference was Ava Parker, president of Palm Beach State College, who emphasized that women networking with other women is essential to move ahead, be productive and collaborative.Parker is quoted by Phillips: “Parker, who is the first female president of the college in its 83-year history, said once she became the boss, she knew who to go to when she needed something done. ‘If it’s really hard, and I want to get it done, I’ll ask a woman,’ she said.“Rebecca Patterson, chief investment officer for Bessemer Trust Companies. Phillips quotes Patterson as saying: “Sending a friendly intro email, remembering thank you notes, and buying someone a cup of coffee can still take women far. Getting ahead and staying ahead remains a challenge. Do everything, do it well, and then ask for the promotion. ““’Your career is decided when you’re not in the room,’ Patterson said. Ask if there’s anything else you can do, or do it anyway.”