As the debate on how to create gender equity in leadership roles continues, it’s important to look at the role of networking in the inability to close the gap. Believe it or not, women simply do not have access to the same tools and resources offered in professional networks that male leaders do. This creates a disparity in the type of information women have access to.
I attend several networking functions each month in various professional settings for my company. And by far, functions that cater to men’s professional development tend to deliver more actionable content and shared resources, and to create more long-term value. On the other hand, networking functions geared toward women tend to focus on things like decor, dancing breakout sessions, exchanging business cards and raffles to encourage participation.
Why does this happen?
A few years ago, I hosted a public event to celebrate the launch of my book. The purpose was to teach women how to expand their business models by leveraging corporate investors. I invited decision makers from some of world’s leading retailers to discuss how to gain access to corporate contracts, lenders to discuss how to increase market share, and venture capitalists to discuss the importance of equity. I based it on the success of a VC event I attended in the past, where I had the opportunity to raise capital in the room to fund my startup. My event fell on deaf ears, as the women thought it was “boring” and were waiting for more entertainment than education.
After years of working on ways to provide the same value without diluting the message, I introduced a vetting process for those who want to attend my sessions to avoid the same mistakes. Many women attend leadership functions with different goals than men,...
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