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