Women only events are both appreciated and hated by many different people in different walks of life. I am used to facilitating space for women only and what happens behind those doors is amazing. Women who feel completely safe in their environment with other women are able to speak and feel like they are heard. They don’t always want feedback or suggestions or for someone to “fix” things for them. They want a place to speak and other women respect it.
By now you have seen the video of the female physicist being spoken over by a male author. This is an all too common occurrence. When I worked for corporate America, not only was I consistently spoken over by my male coworkers, I was often not heard. Suggestions I made were dismissed until a male employee suggested the same thing. When it comes to my own business, I have men try to tell me how to run it and how to locate work. I am a smart woman, I already know what I am doing. And when I am stuck, I seek out women who do what I am already doing. Why do I seek out women? Because they listen to me and suggest things that will work rather than what they want me to do. Even more recently I had a male editor send me less-than-pleasant criticism on an article I wrote featuring work you can do on the side to earn extra cash. I mentioned massage therapy since it was a requirement in the work order. So I am writing about working on the side, not full-time employment, and I mentioned the ability to control your schedule based upon my own knowledge of several massage therapists who do set their own schedules and not work around others’ schedules. But this man says I was dead wrong and it couldn’t be published because all massage therapists work around other peoples’ schedules. It was his scathing attitude and complete disregard for the possibility that he might be wrong that has left a sour taste in the back of my throat. Even as I repeated his criticism to other women who do the same work as I……they fought the urge to facepalm. Not only because he is not correct in his assumptions but also because of the chastising tone he felt the need to take with me.
This does not mean that I dislike working with any men or avoid working with men. There are some amazing men out there who really listen to what I have to say. Unfortunately, there are a lot more men who drown those amazing men out. When it comes to a networking opportunity, I want to sit down with other women in sisterhood and really engage in conversations about juggling all the aspects of being self-employed. I want to talk to other women about the journey into getting published in print media. I want to hear them talk about running a business with integrity and morality and not out to “squash the competition”. Because for the women I have met in the writing field, it’s not like that for us. We see room at the table for all! Even now, I have women who ask me how I got into my writing gigs. I am honest with them, I don’t sugarcoat how difficult it is, but I am right there ready to help them every step of the way. Because it was women who did the same for me, who continue to do the same for me, and it’s my duty to do the same for any woman who desires to work on her terms.
That is why we need women only events.