Today is International Women’s Day and I decided it would be the perfect day to write my first blog post about August Women and women’s issues especially as it relates to our careers. First, a little background about August Women. August Women is a networking group for working women between the ages of 21 and 31 which I started in 2009. I started it because when I first started working, I wished there was a place I could go to meet working women my age and also listen to older, successful working women who could give me advice about my career and talk about how they had achieved their success. There have been several August Women networking events in the past with the next planned for March 17th this year. I’m not going to lie. August Women has been very difficult for me to run. I have given up on it several times but I have also noticed that a few months after I give up, something stirs within me and I start working on my August Women dream again.
The biggest supporters for August Women have been men. It is sad, controversial but true. Having said that, the people who have been speakers at past events have all been women (because I wanted it that way) and they have come to speak at August Women events without being paid a penny. I am eternally grateful to them for what they have done. However, when I talk about August Women, it is men who seem more interested (and not because they want me to hook them up with young women 😉 ) More men than women ask for details about the group, ask how they can help and actually do offer help. I find this situation sad but I honestly don’t know how to change it or even if it can be changed.
This topic brings me to a similar one: why do women seem to spend more time bringing one another down than helping one another? I have heard of a situation where a female manager said she wanted to hire only men. If the person who had hired her had thought that way, would she have had a job? I try to be balanced. There are certain jobs or roles in which men are better suited. For example: there are positions which involve a lot of errand-running and ‘okada-jumping’. I think the average young woman in Lagos would be unhappy in such a role but the job I mentioned earlier was as an assistant manager – a desk job which the female manager had once held. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that she openly said she did not want to hire a woman for the role. What if it were her well-qualified sister or daughter who applied for the role? Would she be pleased to hear that her loved one wasn’t hired because she was female? In my years of working, I have never heard such a comment passed by a man. That is not to say a man has never said such a thing just that I have never heard it said before.
It is for reasons like this and others that I set up August Women. I really do hope it will help develop young women and encourage them to help each other whenever the opportunity arises. What do you think? Have you ever seen or experienced a woman pulling another woman down in the workplace? What did you do about it? What can women do to help each other instead of seeing each other as competition? Is it even possible? Let us know in the comments.
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