Guest blogger, Natalie Fitzgerald, asks an important question…

Why is it, that whenever women form a group to support, encourage and promote each other, criticism and backlash are so quick to follow? Justifications are demanded. Irrelevance is suggested. Disassociation can be quick and brutal.

To quote my seven-year-old daughter – ‘why?’

Since the beginning of the evolved human, groups of like-minded people have gathered to share resources and ideas. The sharing of resources and the offering of support so often leads to innovation and success, not only for individuals but often the collective. A problem shared is a problem halved. Many hands make light work. The clichés are many. Group work remains a form of assessment at University and Kindergarten alike. It makes sense. The notion of shared thoughts resulting in greater results than that of a single mind.

So what are we afraid of? Why is it when women seek to support and share, the very idea is met with skepticism at best, and outright insults at worse? Is it because these groups challenge the traditional notion of a woman’s place in society? Surely not! After all, it is 2016.

Admittedly, not all women’s groups face criticism. No-one fears the mothers group. The Country Women’s Association with their cookbooks and handy hints for removing stains are no more a concern than a Teddy Bears Picnic. Group mani/pedi sessions accompanied by sparkling wine and gossip is encouraged. But a group of intelligent, driven and capable women, formally grouping to support one another with a view of betterment for the individuals and a sector alike – oh my!

Is there an un-conscious bias among us to maintain the status quo, where women can achieve great success, but in contained, neat numbers? Is there a concern women will demand too much should they gain the confidence to insist on equal pay? Maybe, biologically we are simply afraid women will stop having babies if they are encouraging each other to seek out career success? Or is the concern children will grow up feeling alone and uncared for because their mothers were CEO’s? I don’t have the answer. I do value the conversation. Especially from the critics. I’d love to know. Why. Why doesn’t everyone support the notion of women supporting each other to achieve the best they can?

We’re fortunate to work in sector full of not only talented and intelligent women, but women who are strong enough to stand up, together, for each other. This is something everyone working in strata should be proud of. And yet so many aren’t.

Why?

Natalie Fitzgerald is a managing partner at Strata Sense and a member of the Women in Strata steering committee.

 

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