March 8, 2013
For hundreds of years women have been banding together formally and informally to work together towards common goals. Whether that goal was acquiring the vote or advocating for women’s interests in a particular industry, women’s organizations have been great places for women to support one another. As Executive Director of New York Women in Communications, I’ve seen firsthand how women’s professional societies can make a difference in the lives of their members.
At the onset, many women created their own groups because they were barred from men’s organizations, but women-focused organizations continue to thrive today. Women have come so far, and some might question the need for separate organizations. Can’t a woman just join the gender neutral organization in her industry? Of course she can, and should. But there is still a place for women-focused groups, too. Why?
- The glass ceiling is still as real as it ever was. Women make only 77 cents to the dollar that a man makes for the same job and leadership across most industries remains male-dominated. Women still need advocacy and attention to receive equal opportunities in the workforce.
- Women are the leaders of women’s organizations. An all-woman Board of Directors means lots of leadership positions for members. Members can learn new skills, network, and gain leadership experience without competing with men for coveted Board positions.
- Women’s groups create a place to commiserate about women-focused concerns. Some of our programming addresses issues like work/life balance, being a working mom, and dressing for success. Those topics probably wouldn’t be of interest to all members in a gender-neutral organization.
- Members can be inspired by other members. When our young professionals see an established member and what she has accomplished, they can learn from her and her success. They see themselves as being able to accomplish what she did.
The tagline of New York Women in Communications is “Connect with the women who connect the world.” I think women’s professional societies across all industries connect women and help each other realize their potential. As Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook said, “I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop. Nobody can succeed on their own.”
That’s the power of women’s organizations. They support members so they can realize their potential.