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A Missing Factor In Women’s Leadership: Leave The Mean Girl Behind

I recently launched an intimate dinner series called The Whisper Network covering taboo topics facing women’s advancement in the workforce. Many of these topics aren’t addressed because women don’t feel comfortable raising them or might be nervous about repercussions if they are openly talked about in larger forums. As women we tend to have a stronger reliance on one-on-one bonds and smaller, more intimate networks vs. men in order to discuss more controversial subjects such as how much money we might make or not make, how we were passed over for a promotion by a male peer or worse, “the mean girl.”

As we sat around the table, everyone had a story about a mean girl they dealt with in their careers. Certainly, in more male dominated industries, the mean girl, sometimes referred to as the “queen bee” is not just a theory, but a reality. Further, this isn’t just about the women at the top, but also encompasses female peers. With all the focus and momentum on raising each other up as women and building support networks, it should have surprised me that the mean girl continues to present as such a big issue but it didn’t. I hear quite often that while there are so many women walking the walk, there are still many that just talk the talk.

Jennifer DaSilva, President of Berlin Cameron and Founder of Girl Brands Do It Better, wrote an article earlier this year talking about women and the power of community and stated “Among all the women I talk to, the overall sentiment is that the energy of women helping other women is at an all-time high. We’re in a moment where women are less competitive and more willing to help each other succeed. We’re all starting to understand that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you put yourself down.” While I completely agree and as someone who launched a business focused on developing women, I think we need to add to that sentiment: that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you have to put yourself or others down.

Competition is healthy until it’s not. DaSilva also stated in the article that “while women are still supporting each other, [in a recent study] 55% of respondents still feel there’s work to be done. This can especially be said in the corporate world, where a lack of female representation can lead to competition and a lack of camaraderie.” How do we continue to advance and support each other with a little healthy competition in our networks, if we continue to face or be the mean girl at the table?

As a woman, there is heavy competition with men but there seems to be even more competition with some women, mainly because there are fewer of us. This competition is not just at the senior levels of organizations. We live in a culture that perpetuates women’s feelings of insecurity. It’s one the reasons we are banding together to support one another and creating real change. We are also human and filled with insecurities around career advancement, success, financial wealth and power. Company cultures often mirror grade-school school culture, dividing their employees into different groups: top talent, high performers, needs improvement, etc. This can further fuel unhealthy competition, meanness and exclusive behavior.

How we do leave the mean girl at the door but also work with her? It’s hard to escape the mean girl at the office, out with new clients, at women’s events and in other professional environments. “Mean girls exist in business networking events too,” shared Cindy Ashton, CEO of Minerva Enterprises. “They stand in their circle, staring at the other women, making comments on what they are wearing and criticizing what they do. It lowers our self-esteem and confidence. We need to catch ourselves when we get ‘catty’ and reframe – ‘what would it take for me to truly get to know this other woman and collaborate?’” Roll out the welcome mat instead of pulling it out from underneath their feet.

After much deliberation in our dinner, we unanimously decided to call out the mean girl and make them aware of their behavior. At a time when we are calling out certain men for their lack of support, why don’t we call out the women who don’t have our backs and perpetuate the culture we are fighting so hard against? I’m not advocating for confrontation, but I am talking about communication. If we don’t bring awareness to this challenge, those cracks in our networks get larger and success for all vs. just for one decreases.

Focusing on positive reinforcement and how we can work together is just as important as building community with like-minded women and male allies. Share in our successes and in our struggles. We need to team up to help move forward by sharing what we know, how we can support and empower each other, and how we build real community. As women we need to lend our voice and support at the table for other women, become their true advocates for new opportunities, be open and make connections as well as follow through. Walk the walk.

To circle back to DaSilva’s article, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network states “a community is a group of people who are active participants in your success.” Supportive communities celebrate each other and their wins, large and small. This definition of community leaves no room for the mean girl and it’s time to leave her behind. Leading by example is critical and we need to exemplify the qualities we wish to see in others. When we think of the next generation of female CEOs, politicians, activists, entrepreneurs and more, what do we want those women to see when they look up? We don’t want to embrace a future with negativity and bullying. Creating an even playing field that is collaborative and supportive is something I am striving for.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I am the Founder and CEO of Luminary in NYC, the premier collaboration space for women who are passionate about professional development and expanding their networks. Luminary is the ultimate career advocate providing our membership community with unparalleled programming and access to industry leaders and pioneering entrepreneurs. A long-time advocate for empowering women and girls, I serve on the National Board for Girls Inc. I have over twenty years of leadership experience in financial services. Previously, I was the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Multinational Corporate Banking for HSBC managing roughly $2 billion in revenue and teams in 55 countries. Prior to that, I was a Managing Director and Head of Multinational Corporate Banking at J.P. Morgan in EMEA. I’m committed to leveraging my corporate experience to support and encourage women and push for gender parity in the workplace.

Source: A Missing Factor In Women’s Leadership: Leave The Mean Girl Behind

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How Four Female VCs Triumphed In Male-Dominated Silicon Valley

The reputation of Silicon Valley as a bastion of testosterone is by now well-established, and award-winning journalist Julian Guthrie decided it was time to tell a new story—one with a little more estrogen. In her new book, Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took On Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime, Guthrie explores the complicated lives of female VCs through the eyes of four resilient characters. She traces their trajectories—how they’ve dealt with victories and defeats, the ways they’ve juggled work and family, how they’ve coped with sexist attitudes—to get where they are today. They were among the first investors and founding board members of startups that would go on to become the giants of Silicon Valley.

The book takes us through the achievements of Magdalena Yeşil, who helped Marc Benioff grow Salesforce; Mary Jane Elmore, one of the first women to make partner at a U.S. venture firm; Theresia Gouw, who helped build major companies like Facebook and Trulia; and Sonja Perkins, one of the first female partners at Menlo Ventures, where she invested in such companies as McAfee and Hotmail.

Samantha Todd: What gave you the idea for Alpha Girls?

Julian Guthrie: I was on tour for my last book, How to Make a Spaceship, spending a lot of time with entrepreneurs and engineers. I began to ask myself: Where are all the women in these really important and dynamic industries? Although I’d worked at the San Francisco Chronicle for 20 years, I didn’t know there was such a disparity as there is today. I started to look into tech for some kind of hidden figures, some really dynamic women who had great narratives and whose stories hadn’t been told.

I came across this figure that 94% of all check-writing VCs are men. But who is the remaining 6%, who are the women? I wanted to know what the world looks like for them, what it’s like being pretty much the only woman in the room, the only woman chasing after certain deals.

Todd: And what about today? Do you think things have changed in Silicon Valley at all?

Guthrie: With the #MeToo movement, there were all these bad guys who were outed in all these different industries, including tech, and there was a great spotlight that was shined on equity. Now you see these really strong groups like All Raise and Broadway Angels and these all-women investing platforms and political advocacy groups. I see these really promising pockets across the country where women who had climbed their way up that VC ladder and had gotten to partner, to general partner. Many are now starting their own firms.

Todd: But it’s not all good news everywhere, is it?

Guthrie: You look across industries, whether it’s home building or architecture or law or medicine or advertising, and women in the top ranks only represent between 5% and 20%. The progress across these industries has really stalled—it’s hard to imagine that we’re at this place in time and there’s still so much underrepresentation.

Todd: Tell me about the term “alpha girl.” What does that mean exactly?

Guthrie: An alpha girl is someone who goes from navigating to pioneering in whatever field, somebody who seizes an opportunity that’s difficult and persists and finds a way to thrive.

Todd: How did you arrive at the book’s title?

Guthrie: At first I had the Alpha Girls Club. I like the word “girls” because even as women, we can be girls. I think the girl should embody boldness and strength and compassion. Strength combined with girls—I love that equation. Alpha Girls is being adapted for a TV series, and a lot will be changed, with the story fictionalized, but Alpha Girls will remain as the title.

Todd: In the book you talk about how your reporting was already under way when the #MeToo movement began, but that it affected your reporting. Can you discuss that?

Guthrie: These women have to work with the guys, and they have to network. More men have honestly gotten behind this movement, this need, this call to action. #MeToo had a good effect, but there’s a flip side as well. It’s something like 60% of men who were recently surveyed in Silicon Valley in tech said that they won’t have a one-on-one meeting with a woman. They won’t mentor a woman, they won’t have closed-door meetings one-on-one, they won’t do offsite things. And that’s terrible.

Todd: If readers take away one idea from your book, what would you like it to be?

Guthrie: I would say that tech and venture capital are amazing careers for women and more women need to be in this industry that is shaping our future. An alpha girl shows how it can be done, but it’s a dynamic industry, and women should be getting into it in stronger numbers and playing a big role in shaping the future.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

I serve as an assistant editor on the Leadership team at Forbes. Previously, I interned with the Echoes-Sentinel and The Bernardsville News where I covered local news and events. I was editor-in-chief of The Setonian, Seton Hall University’s student-run and award-winning newspaper.

Source: How Four Female VCs Triumphed In Male-Dominated Silicon Valley

Meet The Woman Turning The Payday Loan Industry On Its Head

It’s the early 2000s and Ennie Lim is what creditors refer to as credit invisible. Despite touting a bachelors degree from a prestigious university in Montreal and logging several years of work experience in the US working for San Fransisco nonprofits, Lim has no history with any of the US banking institutions and therefore is unable to get approved for any of the major credit cards. Working in Silicon Valley, her funds are understandably tight and once she goes through a divorce – in spite of the fact that she was working a good job with a steady income – she finds herself unable to afford San Francisco rent prices.

Source: Meet The Woman Turning The Payday Loan Industry On Its Head

How Two Millennial Women Made Over $130,000 While Traveling the World Full-Time

 

Last year, I left my corporate life in New York City behind in a vow to give myself one year to design my dream job. Shortly thereafter, I took off on a 9-month-long social experiment, in which I would circumnavigate the globe by couch-surfing exclusively through my social network. Seventeen countries, four continents, and over a hundred encounters later, I have learned that I am not alone in my quest to earn a living while traveling the world: there are so many people out there right now who are making it work.

Source: How Two Millennial Women Made Over $130,000 While Traveling the World Full-Time

9 Bold & Powerful Women Who Shaped the Art World – Jessica Stewart

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While the art world has historically seen a gender imbalance, this doesn’t mean that there have not been important women working on the scene. Artists themselves often get highlighted, but many female art patrons past and present have helped shape the way we view art. In fact, history is littered with trailblazing women who have influenced art history thanks to their work as collectors, gallerists, patrons, and museum founders……

Read more: https://mymodernmet.com/influential-women-in-art

 

 

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