Women have always been programmed to compete with each other. From the time we were kids up to the time we joined the corporate world, women are thrown in a fight while spectators—men and other women—watch from afar. Movies like Mean Girls and Clueless show how bitchy women can be to each other. And then movies with empowered women are less popular. Often, women are demonized to show strength. So, why are we surprised that the highest level of governments and corporations are dominated by men?
When you want to be an immigration lawyer, for example, do you set your eyes on the goal or the women who want the same thing? In a classroom, women compete with women rather than with men who are seemingly favored by their professors. During an internship, women became friends with men while all along being catty with their co-female interns. Such is the sad state of women empowerment all over the world.
Women Need a Close-knit of Friends
Last year, the Harvard Business Review came up with an exciting new study. It said that women with an inner circle of successful female friends are more likely to land executive positions and higher pay. As for men, no link suggests the same benefit for them when they have an inner circle of close male friends. Both groups benefit from having a network of well-connected peers from different groups, though.
The research said that women face many systematic challenges in the workplace. Things like pay inequity, sexual harassment, and unfair opportunities get in the way of their success. Other women have started to notice this. Women have also started climbing the upper echelon of power in the corporate world. They know the struggles they needed to face to take them there, and they are not going to sit idly by while watching other women face the same challenges alone.
Successful women who have been where you are right now can empathize with you. They offer a level of support that men can’t. This is the only push women need to respond positively to their challenges. The women who joined the study landed high-paying jobs than those who needed to navigate the corporate world on their own.
Not Exactly a Revelation
This study isn’t exactly new. Past studies have shown that women are more successful in pursuing higher education when they are surrounded by women. In an engineering course, women are more likely to finish the degree if the course has a healthy female population. That pattern appeared in a West Point study, too. The prestigious military school said that the number of female recruits dropping out of training reduced when the overall population of women rose in the school.
So how exactly can women build these exciting networks? Where do they go? Who do they talk to? Is there a secret recruitment club that puts like-minded women together?
Put Yourself Out There
Most of the time, women feel pressured to build relationships. When they are at work, they feel compelled to join their unit or department. This means they only get to hang out with the same people who do the same work as them. Put yourself out there. Allow yourself to meet women who are different from you. If you idolize a woman in your company, don’t be afraid to reach out. Ask her if she can be your mentor? Many women are only too happy to lift their peers.
Prioritize These Relationships
Once you started building relationships, make time for them. If you don’t prioritize these relationships, they will fizzle out on their own. To build connections, you have to decide that they are important. Check your calendar. When was the last time you reconnected with your friends? When was the last time you had dinner with them? Sure, you’re busy climbing the corporate ladder, but how will you get the support you need if you are not spending time with your peers?
Support Other Women
You can’t take and not give. When you give compliments, it shows that you aren’t insecure about your place in the corporate world. At first, it may look like you’re taking attention away from yourself, but what it does show is you’re willing to support others who did a great job. When you see a female co-worker do something great, don’t hesitate to tell others about it. Prop her up as the hero for that day. You know how important it is for women to feel appreciated and admired.
Women are simply better when they are together. They are more powerful and inspired by helping each other. Why waste your time putting other women down? Plenty of other people already do that. Women need to get together and form a support group they sorely lack.