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Building women’s networks and communities: Can we be more inclusive and supportive?

Category Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Yes, we can.

Perhaps one thing we should learn from our male peers is how to build strong, inclusive, and supportive communities. From life experiences since our childhoods, we all know how complicated, scattered, and niched women’s communities can be.

According to Lisa Torres – a George Washington University sociology professor – the problem is not a failure in the career development or job-search acumen of seasoned female professionals, and it certainly is not an issue with the quality of the candidates. Lisa points out that the main issue lies in the difficulty women experience to find a sense of belonging with people they feel most comfortable associating with [1].

In our previous post about ostracism, we discussed how ostracism has long-lasting adverse effects that hinder people’s ability to connect and develop a sense of belonging. In the workplace, this lack of belonging leads to the long-term consequences of detachment, lower productivity and even career dropout in the worst cases. The lack of support from the people that relate the most (women to women) contributes even further to increased career dropout.

So what are some ways we can support each other?

A current article by Science discusses why women are less cited than men and what can be done about it [2]. Hence, when writing our own research results we should aim to be more aware of who we are using as a reference, and do our part to support the work of other women.

Perhaps it is time we think beyond just patriarchy as the source of gender inequality, and look into what we as women can do to offset its effects, such as by building more supportive communities with all the flavours of intersectionalities.

This is something that WREN stands for: giving women in engineering the hope and purpose they need to continue and thrive in their careers and lives.