Many times, we are put in situations where it seems that we are each other’s competition, when in most cases, we are not, and we shouldn’t feel like we are. Instead, we need to be supportive of one another because I believe when women support other women we can truly feel empowered. As young women, it can sometimes be intimidating majoring in a field that is predominately male. It seems that most business majors are male, especially at Virginia Tech. I can speak from experience because in most of my classes, there always seem to be more men than women, and sometimes, that can be intimidating, even though it shouldn’t have to be. That is why it is important to be supportive of the women in your lives. CWIB does an amazing job in presenting material to its members in a way in which the organization makes everyone feel motivated and excited about their potential as young women in the business world. There are several reasons why women should empower other women as this brings about benefits for us all.
One reason ties into the point made earlier about being in a great organization like CWIB. It is incredibly important to have a network of women and only women. As Victoria Pynchon explains in her article Why Women Need Women-Only Networks, she discusses how crucial it is to have a judge-free zone. As women, we are judged more often than not, and the ability to have a “room of our own” is essential to get rid of the uncertainty many women feel when they walk into a room. Many times, women feel like they are taking up space in which they do not belong, so by having, in a sense a “safe space”, women will feel more comfortable and feel like they fit in, which could translate into being more productive in their work (Pynchon). Most of us do not have full time jobs right now, so this may not pertain to you currently, but think about the close girlfriends you have right now in classes, clubs, and internships — those are networks for you to take advantage of! College, as we all know, can be stressful and daunting at times, so it is crucial to have that cushion of support that you can rely on during arduous times. It always comforts me knowing I have many girlfriends that I can go to for advice, or receive comfort from whenever I’m stressed, worried, or anxious. CWIB is one of those supportive networks to be apart of as young, aspiring professional women because it is a place where its members can grow in confidence while networking with other young women in a safe environment. I always feel inspired after the meetings presented by the club and through networking with members; inspiration is a huge part of empowerment. This is where your empowerment can start, with your group of friends!
Research shows that women who support other women are more successful in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review found that women with a network of only women were more likely to get promoted to executive positions, whereas on the other side, there was no correlation found between close-knit networks among men (Zalis). Zalis explains how women who strive to climb the ladder of leadership often face more struggles and obstacles than their male coworkers. One way to deal with these obstacles is to develop close connections with the women in your workplace who have been in the position that you are in right now (Zalis).
Overall, we should strive to encourage and support each other because everyone needs a support system. Make yourself that person who gives someone the support she needs for the day. Everyone has bad days, and now with our last midterm exams coming up and finals looming over our heads, it seems that we are preparing for the inundation of the work that is to come. So, we might have more stressful days than usual. I encourage all of us as CWIB members to be that person who empowers another, because who knows, you might have just made someone’s day. By complimenting someone’s outfit or make-up, or by congratulating someone about an internship she just accepted, however big or small the encouragements are, they make a difference and mean more to someone than you might realize. These small acts of empowerment are the driving force which distinguish great women. So today, go out of your way and compliment or congratulate a fellow woman. These are all ways of empowering other women; you may have just given her a small enough amount of motivation to finish that application for her dream internship or to keep studying for an exam coming up.
There are many reasons and benefits as to why we should find ways to empower our friends and colleagues. Luckily for us, we are a part of an influential university, Virginia Tech, that in many ways prepares us to become successful business leaders one day. So, from creating a “room of our own” for a judgement-free zone, to having the capability to become more successful due to close-knit networks among women, empowerment amongst women is an essential component of our lives as young women. I will leave you with this quote from Zalis’ article: “…a woman alone has power; collectively we have impact.”
By: Ashley Mattson