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Business Women

(21 Posts)
SallRight Fri 11-Jul-14 15:22:09


I am a member of a business networking group.

The group arranges topical or general networking/informational meetings sometimes there is a speaker/defined subject area/skills training or just for general networking.

One of the regular meetings is titled 'Women in Business'

I am feeling a little conflicted about attending a meeting with this title.

It clearly makes males unlikely to attend (although they would not be turned away - I asked this question).

After some internal debate I decided to attend a couple to see how I felt and I still feel conflicted.

Both meetings had women speakers and all women attendees..

I would feel excludind from a meeting entitled Men in Business (there isn't one) but then I don't feel qualified to attend to upcoming Golf Meet, nor the Young Professionals one either.

So why is it that I don't like to see the Women in Business one on the list of events? Do business women need a single sex meeting?

As an aside outside this group.
I have had my own business for almost two years. I notice sometimes business is done over lunch/in the pub etc and and as a women director I don't often feel I have the gumption to initiate such informal meetings with male potential clients as I might if I were a man. Is that just me.... if you are a business women do you network informally with males in the same way as you would with a female perhaps? I suspect in some cases work has gone to male contacts rather than me due to this.

Therefore do to Women In Business meetings compensate for this type of scenario perhaps?

Would appreciate your thoughts on this confused

PetulaGordino Fri 11-Jul-14 15:40:46

as you have alluded to in your comment about golfing, an enormous number of business gatherings could basically be entitled Men in Business

i don't see a problem myself with women-only spaces with or without a business context. i'm a member of an industry-specific women's group that meets every couple of months, and it's great for networking and not feeling like an outsider.

these things are only worth it though if you are actually getting something out of it. perhaps that group would be a good place for you to explore your feelings and experiences around informal meetings with potential male clients and see if they have any insights or advice?

thesaurusgirl Fri 11-Jul-14 15:46:53

I meet male clients for networking lunches or events all the time.

The trick is to avoid one-on-one lunches. Take along your assistant.

SallRight Fri 11-Jul-14 17:40:12

I am comfortable networking in a mixed environment and meeting one to one with a prospective (male)client would be fine I suspect I am concerned how they or others would view such an invitation if it were not just an office based appointment which makes everything formal - more permissible.

CMOTDibbler Fri 11-Jul-14 17:52:58

I wouldn't take one customer to lunch or anything outside an office environment, it would need several people for me to feel comfortable.

There are issues about conducting business as a woman that are specific - I travel a lot internationally, and am careful to ensure I behave and dress appropriately both not to give offense, but not to promote any unwanted interest as well.

I am surprised.

I don't hesitate to meet clients and business contacts for lunch on a one to one basis - it's fundamental to the service I offer and I don't have an assistant I can take with me. I keep all contact professional and business-like at all times and have never had a problem in nearly 20 years of running my own business.

I have attended women-only networking meetings but felt that it was rather patronising promoting women-only businesses just to women.

RocknRollNerd Fri 11-Jul-14 18:11:23

I think it depends on what the meetings/social aspects are about. I used to attend one occasionally and the first few were great - senior management/c-level women with dinner and then really interesting speakers on business topics. Then for some reason (I presume the organiser changed) they became 'girly' with free goodie bags of chocolate and Molton Brown and I thought fuck that and gave up going.

I'm quite comfortable with women only business gatherings when they are work focussed and they provide a forum for discussion of business issues or even the challenges of being a woman in industry. I work in an extremely male dominated industry, made worse by the fact I'm now pushing 10 years older than the average age of staff as well so it's nice sometimes to almost 'compare notes' and have the support of others in a similar situation. I don't like them when they turn 'girly' and assume that I want to attend something not much more than a Stella & Dot or Pampered Chef type thing purely because I'm a woman. If I'm doing that it would be with friends (or school mums that i can't face saying no to!) not colleagues and professional contacts.

RocknRollNerd Fri 11-Jul-14 18:12:14

Oh and I'm quite happy doing business lunches, meetings, dinners etc one-to-one with a bloke, it's work not a social life.

PetulaGordino Fri 11-Jul-14 18:34:23

"I have attended women-only networking meetings but felt that it was rather patronising promoting women-only businesses just to women."

I've never attended a women only networking meeting that had that as an aim. it's always been about specific challenges that face us as women in our industry - not always a problem in other industries. e.g. i have to make use of a lot of influencing and persuasive skills in my job, towards both men and women. the fact that i am a woman makes a difference - it shouldn't, but it does. it's enormously valuable to gain the insights of other women in the same industry regarding this.

but as rocknrollnerd says it needs to be a valuable use of your time so it needs to be the right set-up

SallRight Fri 11-Jul-14 18:47:07

Hmm thanks I'm in it/management consultancy, decision makers have largely been male so far.

I think informal meetings that I am discussing are those meetings that are to cement a relationship rather than a specific deal and I see many of these taking place informally for men in my field but nothing for me - is it something about me confused I wonder.

I did avoid a women's meeting where there was a make up demonstration!

I do find them a bit patronising yes but also a bit .... Lazy maybe
Are there subjects close to business women's hearts that could be the focus of meetings which has the effect of encouraging more women to attend rather than the title being exclusive - otherwise the women who attend who don't otherwise feel able to network with me don't do it at the networking meeting either.

industry specific works for me as a concept.

SallRight Fri 11-Jul-14 18:52:45

Ahh, thanks Petula. Do you know a source where I could find some ideas of identified barriers most affecting women then I could suggest some ideas of topics that might help make the meeting more useful while appealing strongly to women and making them more active in the networking groups please?

PetulaGordino Fri 11-Jul-14 19:20:07

i don't have a particular source i'm afraid, the organisers will often think of a topic of discussion, or one is suggested to them, and then they organise a speaker etc.

it's difficult because i don't know your industry at all. but one barrier i can think of that probably applies in many industries is that what is perceived as assertiveness in men is often perceived as aggression in women (FFS). so we had a woman in a leadership role speaking on this, followed by discussion. some said that they simply don't want to work with someone anyway if they are sexist (this was a minority view tbh, which is a shame in many ways!). others adapt their behaviour in a variety of ways to get the business and will share how they do this. there was discussion about how this sexist attitude could be changed more widely too (really needs to be more grassroots and widespread in society - most of the dinosaurs aren't going to change now). it's about sharing ideas and experiences, what has worked, what hasn't worked etc

thesaurusgirl Fri 11-Jul-14 19:23:21

those meetings that are to cement a relationship rather than a specific deal

Yes, this is what I've really struggled with too. My male colleagues go to the football, play golf, go to Twickenham, and go to lapdancing clubs with many of their clients.

I can do pubs after a meeting and lunches but more than that and it does get complicated. I not especially attractive by any means, but I've been on the receiving end of over-familiarity so many times.

I do have female colleagues who play the flirtation game very effectively to their advantage, but that's not me.

thesaurusgirl Fri 11-Jul-14 19:25:47

Oh God yes, the women's networking meeting of mumpreneurs.

No, I don't want your bunting and Liberty print baby bibs, thank you.

thesaurusgirl Fri 11-Jul-14 19:27:00

Smoothies! So many mumpreneurs in smoothies and purees they should set up their own industry group.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 11-Jul-14 19:29:11

I worked for a finance company until recently. When we organised client events the activities were a choice between spa days and golf. Guess who went to each. I hated organising them, and was very vocal about hating it, but that's how it was.

In an insurance company I worked for many years ago I discovered that the men in my department had membership to a gentlemen's club strip club for client entertainment. When I complained they tried to palm us wimmen off with spa membership. I left.

Sexism is rife. Those golf days are for men. They just donnt want to say it. Women's days can be great - the women in business group I now belong to is fabulous. But some of these networking days are making a gesture to women, and not taking them seriously. It can be very patronising.

PetulaGordino Fri 11-Jul-14 19:42:29

petiteraleuse you're absolutely right that there is a difference between something set up as a sop to women complaining about being effectively excluded from decision-making events, and a group organised by women to discuss and work on the challenges that face them as a sex within their industry etc

PetulaGordino Fri 11-Jul-14 19:43:44

"I can do pubs after a meeting and lunches but more than that and it does get complicated. I not especially attractive by any means, but I've been on the receiving end of over-familiarity so many times.

I do have female colleagues who play the flirtation game very effectively to their advantage, but that's not me."

me too

PetulaGordino Fri 11-Jul-14 19:44:28

and it suits men as a group down to the ground to maintain the status quo

PetiteRaleuse Fri 11-Jul-14 19:49:39

Of course it suits men to maintain the status quo. Most men prefer to deal with men. Most women too actually. We are trained by the media to mistrust other women.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 11-Jul-14 19:54:51

Media and society in general.

Not only the sleb crap. Look at how MN is treated in the press. By women mainly.

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