In my work interviewing remarkable women leaders, I’ve been seeing a huge trend of women connecting with and investing in other women. Whether as mentors, advisors, philanthropists, or investors, women are increasingly supporting each other in their careers, goals, and lives.
And yes, we can all tell stories about negative experiences connecting with other women—I’ve had my own horrible boss and catty acquaintances. But these experiences are no reason to write off building female relationships. In fact, creating a strong network of women and female role models is critical for your career and your life: It can propel you to reach your full potential—and it can even change the world.
Women Will be Your Sounding Board
“I wanted to be respected as a business owner and leader, not as a woman who owned a business. But, I now realize that there are differences in the experience that only women can relate to… So I am making a concerted effort to associate myself with women’s resources.”
- Shara Mendelson, Founder of Plum Benefits
Some situations in the quest for leadership are unique to women. When negotiating a salary or raise, women face different challenges than men do. Mentorship relationships are more difficult to find and build upon when most role models in positions of leadership are older men. Men may not see the challenge in being the only woman sitting at the boardroom table, but other women can relate.
And when you surround yourself with female mentors and role models, you have a sounding board—a group of people who will understand your frustrations and can help you decide when and how to handle tough situations. You’ll begin to recognize that, no matter what you’re facing, you’re not alone. You have the emotional support of other women who’ve been where you are, and who get it.
Women Can be Role Models
Whether it’s deflecting compliments on how fabulous we look or doubting that we really did ace that big presentation, we women tend to be our own worst critics. When we don’t fit the mold of what the media tells us we have to look, feel, and act like, we think something is wrong, we judge ourselves, and we sometimes talk ourselves out of our goals and aspirations.
But having great female mentors and role models can be what changes that. When you learn from the women who have been there and back, and surround yourself with people who will encourage you along the way, it will give you the strength and inspiration you need to pursue your dreams.
You Can Change the World
According to CARE, women do 60% of the world’s work, yet earn just 10% of the world’s income and own only 1% of the world’s property. While women continue to gain leadership roles in business, at nonprofits, and as entrepreneurs, if we continue at the current rate, it will take 500 years for women to reach parity with men.
But an exciting movement is teeming beneath the surface, and women are joining forces to challenge these statistics. From Gilt Groupe to GEMS’ Girls are Not for Sale, countless companies and campaigns have been born out of the collaboration of women who were not afraid to take a risk.
If you want to make a change in the world, join them. It is because of the many women throughout history who dared to do something that we have the ability to share our voices. And it will be because of today’s women that we are able to challenge the status quo and shape the direction of the future.
When you find the women who inspire, challenge, and push you to be your best, it can be just the therapy you need in work and life. And, best of all, it can even be glorious fun!