via my favorite academic bitch, here's a speech from an academic about why women in higher education need to network with one another - from tenured profs, all the way to the department assistant.
on a larger field it's a speech about why it's important for women communities to support one another. we don't need to support one another because we're weak but to allow one another to be strong. it's sad to say that in most male dominated fields, a woman's strength is the last thing anyone wants to see.
in the corporate spaces i've inhabited, especially lately, i've seen how utterly fierce a woman can be - in meetings, in negotiations, in evaluations. basically, anywhere a man can be in corporate america, i've seen women occupy those spaces and dominate them. but is that strength welcome, though a man's strength would be virtually unquestioned? not necessarily. and because of that perceived threat, or oddity, there are still some spaces that remain outside of our reach.
i don't know if we are used to using our strength so overtly; i am. i mean, now i am, and it's all because the ex-EVP of a major us corporation showed me how. she forced me to network, to take meetings, to knock on other womens' doors, to belly up to the table and say "this is what i want and i'd like to get your counsel on how to get there." because of her nudge i have this job and i have multiplied my contacts to other organizations and other women who value the same things i do. i no longer wholly believe in the myth of Hard Work that says if you work hard enough you'll get rewarded. if you work hard enough, most likely, you're about to get taken advantage of. it's not enough to just work hard and hope someone recognizes you. you have to put that hard work to work.
all that is to say - get out there. join some boards; throw your business card around; ask the name of that assistant who always seems to know her shit (btw, she knows hers and her boss'); volunteer for an event; go to that lame industry lunch. get to know the other women in your city or town.
you'll never know just how strong a group of women can be.