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Strength in Sisterhood

July 1, 2011

There’s a discussion over at Corporette about networking with older women. It’s a follow up to an older post where they talked about networking with an older man who’d previously acted in a way that I would call “skeevy”. Now, Corporette seems mostly written to and commented by lawyers so the advice is not universal. But it is a really awesome community for professional women.

So the original writer wrote in about how to navigate what was both a friendship and a networking opportunity with a group of older women she was working with during an internship. The advice was good but it made me a little pouty and jealous and bitter (which is kind of typical for me anyways).

Yeah I know engineering isn’t as gender balanced as law is (though neither has a fantastic track record). But I had to think hard about any older women at work. Forget there being a group. There are a few other women my age. I guess I’m just not outgoing enough to suggest we all grab drinks based on our double X chromosome alone (plus if that got out to the dudes, we’d all be lambasted as hairy legged feminist bitches and probably limit everyone’s career). But I am upset that there aren’t enough women there that something like that would happen naturally.

I had a female boss back when I worked in health care and since working there I had one female boss as well. But she wasn’t much of a mentor. In fact the women I’ve been closest to there have been striving to get out. To make the money they needed to make so they could go spend their days on the beach. Spending days on the beach isn’t my thing and it makes sense not every woman would have enough in common to chat. It’s just annoying that there aren’t enough women that I can find any other female engineers or higher level people that maybe a few of us do have something in common. Maybe some day.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2011 5:44 am

    I've been finding that if I keep my door open to women, and seek out other women who are willing to be mentors, then there is a networking and friendship opportunity just based on the fact that we are willing to be/want mentors. Often I have nothing in common with the women, academically or personally, other than the fact that we have the same career goals and want to see other women succeed. But that's enough to build on over lunch, or while getting a cup of coffee, and when we see each other again at professional meetings when we've both moved on.This requires wanting to be "that type of woman," but it is possible to do this without seeming like a radical feminist. (Or maybe I'm just fooling myself about how I'm perceived.)

  2. July 1, 2011 11:22 pm

    That's so true for me too about women wanting to get out. There have been very few opportunities for me to meet women mentors over the post-PhD years because the women in positions higher than me needed help themselves. When I sought out women mentors, they were mostly disasters. Boomer ladies seemed to treat me like a daughter, and some of them have been really discouraging. So many of them have told me they would never make the choices they made again. They never would have been scientists, that the abuse and constant uphill battle was not worth their lives. Over the past year, I've heard the same phrase from two respected women: "I don't love science anymore." I've taken the advice from someone my age to change careers, because I see how she did it, and there are plenty of jobs in this field and a much better representation of women (which also means lower salary). Maybe someday I'll be able to write about sisterhood bc I won't be the only fucking woman in the building.jc

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