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The Importance of Networking for Women

The importance of women networking in business has been on my mind.  Recently I had the exceptional opportunity to attend a business tour and a panel workshop for women in science. My experiences have taken me on a unique path through many businesses as well as research.  It brought me back in contact with the more intellectual based paths of academia. I judged school science fairs with the American Women in Science.  A very active group that does much to encourage networks connecting industry to academia and most of the members have Master and PhDs. This panel discussed the importance of having good mentors and the differences in working in these two distinct areas.

I have observed that women tend towards forming relationships and this is the key to success in professional circles. The service industry creates customer loyalty, and this creates business.  Men have always had the “ole boys club”, a strong web of connections that help them excel, and women are now also reaping the rewards of this behavior.  “I found there was a gap – no support or networking seemed to exist for women in technical roles outside of software engineering said, Lauren McPhail. She insists tailoring a network to a group with shared experiences is the best way to allow members to discuss and gain advice without judgement – this helps tackle the challenges women face in the digital marketing industry. The challenges are not so different from other industries.

The talent pipeline is broken. The more technical side of the industry has fewer women entering it because girls and women haven’t been encouraged to science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers or education in past decades.

The women who do enter the industry are highly likely to work with mostly male colleagues and a male boss. They are less likely to be mentored or promoted, so women in leadership roles are scarce. It really is a cycle.”

I grew up in a neighborhood that had many more boys than girls. My sister and both went to engineering school where the ratios of boys to girls at the time was 10:1, thankfully it was a mirror of the workforce. When women work together to create a positive environment it benefits all of society. Sometimes though when new women join a team there may be posturing for territory.  I don’t think there is a glass ceiling, it is more like a skylight that can be retracted but someone must know-how. Some professions besides nurses and teachers have many women in their ranks. Biotech, real estate, and law have increased their numbers. The issue is salaries. There is still a wide gap, though having women in upper management can help change that! Traditional thinking had the man as the breadwinner and thus needing more, where in realty there are far more women having to provide for themselves and their children.

 Most times it’s our own thoughts that may hinder us from making the most of a business situation or network.  I was reading a piece from the Center for Creative Leadership and came across some interesting points.  The power to choose is often overlooked by women. Encourage female leaders in the organization to:

  • Exert greater influence over the choices they make.
  • Take the lead in shaping conversations about their careers.
  • Take greater ownership over their career choices.
  • Create a personal leadership development strategy.
  • Effective leaders rely on key networks and trusted partners to influence others and to get results.
  • Many women resist the process of networking, believing it’s insincere, manipulative, or political — or simply not a natural part of who they are. But the networks that come easily are not necessarily beneficial for women, their careers, or their organization.
  • Managers, coaches, and mentors should help women gain a clear understanding of the network they have and compare it to the network they need. New relationships and new connections can be built with both the short term and the long term in mind.

https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/5-proven-ways-develop-female-talent/

I encourage women to do what they can to network with other women and other more traditional groups.

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Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBAhttp://www.designertastes.com/
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

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3 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Thank you for this article Cynthia. As an admittedly old white male, I’ve been struggling with the proliferation of so many “Women in…” organizations, and wondering if they really address their mandate to advance the cause of women. If these groups seek to break through the glass ceilings of their industry, will they accomplish that by meeting with other women? Shouldn’t they be at the regular industry conferences networking with men that can advance their careers?

    I have seen a couple of interesting things about industry conferences. First, the line up of of speakers seems to still be male dominated. Surely there isn’t an industry left where there are not qualified females that could be subject matter experts. Second, many events still segregate men and women. One I attended had a golf tournament, which I believe women could attend but it was certainly focused on males. That’s because at the same time, the ladies were invited for a genuine Southern style tea. And at another, the women were sent of for a massage and a mani/pedi. Personally, I’d take the massage over whacking a little white ball around a field. Surely we are past the stage where we need to have gender separated events at industry functions.

    I hope to live long enough to see the day where being a female in a senior position isn’t part of the headline. When Mary Barra became CEO of GM, the media was fascinated by the fact she was female. She is an accomplished executive with a number of successes in her career. Her gender, to me, was irrelevant. When GM selected a female CFO, the media was again astounded that GM now had two…count ’em…TWO! females in the executive suite. Again, I thought gender was irrelevant. The media apparently disagreed with me.

    Thanks again for your thoughts on this.

  2. I found your post extremely interesting. I went to 13 schools, traveling a great deal, missed every exam. However I was in one of humanities best classrooms, the World. Learning was continuous, gaining experience in life skills and humanity. I hated writing as I am dyslexic, avoided it whenever possible. Went into the caring professions trying to hide my problem. They were understanding as I was bright and had other useful essential skills. I was able to support my choice of career, at that time, not however possible today.

    I was asked to join a women’s club of very powerful professional women, a rarity at that time. I had no idea why I was asked. We met once a month in a different restaurant on a Friday evening. I remained an observer for a long time, before starting to take an active part. One lady gave me a lift home in her chauffeur driven car. We were together long enough for her to burst out laughing and say. ‘I always thought of you as a little brown mouse, how wrong I was!’ We became good friends and kept going to our meetings till we both retired. I met some wonderful inspirational women, learning much from them.

    The reason for telling you all this is that university is important for some, work place learning important for others. The World teaches us all the time and punishes us when we get it wrong. Combinations of all these like yourself, plus a bit like me and my networking experience would move women forward with confidence much faster.

    I was always a storyteller, now to my utter amazement, I am a writer with gramerly’s help. I still make mistakes, I just do not allow the mistakes to stop me writing anymore. Hopefully this will encourage others with a learning difficulty to try. It has certainly allowed me to help many people round the World to help themselves, for that I am grateful.

    • Thanks! My first job out of college was in a Nuclear Medicine lab. I was the one brave enough to donate blood for our projects. There was nothing in that position or in immunology that segregated genders. I then opened a business in Greece and it took a lot of guts to get ahead in a male dominated region. In fact not until recently here in San Diego do I see a huge difference. I come from a wonderful family that encouraged me to do better never saying I could not because I am female!

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