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Why we need to become more proactive about gender diversity, and avoid 70s style conscience-raising when tackling female advancement blockers – as observed by female architect – plus what it is the role of women only networking events

What happens when you gather together 200 female architects to discuss the advancement of women in this archetypal “old man’s profession”? They “trade horror stories” and sympathise with one another, as described by event organiser Sandra Kaji-O’Grady, a professor at Sydney University.

Sure, this is one of the wonderful elements of all women’s events – that space where you know you’ll be understood, and empathy is a given. But we need to move past this, and start coming up with practical tactical solutions. Kaji-O’Grady seconds that opinion and shared with journalist Harriet Alexander her disappointment that a room full of creative, methodical problem solvers didn’t offer many new ideas on how to get women moving up the ranks in this very top-heavy male industry.

Read the full article here for more details on the event, and the status of women in architecture. This article is especially interesting for it’s views on positive discrimination as “special intervention” – I recommend you all check it out.

Which brings me back to women only networking and what is the right place for it…  Four years ago when I started sphinxx, I did so because women in senior management roles needed the space to set the agenda, discuss the key issues, swap success stories and strategies and meet one another.  I still believe this is true. But in a world where more and more women-only networks and events keep popping up, it’s got me wondering about the impact of all this networking energy.

I think it’s really important though that we don’t forget that for women aspiring to leadership roles, in Australia 90% of these roles are held by men. Even though we’re seeking to change that to make it more equal and get better results through diversity, this isn’t going to happen without a great deal of collaboration. I’ve blogged before about 
good guys who have recognised the operational and bottom line benefits of gender diversity, and about the importance of having champions for your career as well as yourself. The smart move here is to pick a champion who is on that board, or that exec team you want a spot on, and get them to sell you into the role you seek.

So female networking definitely has a place, but if you only network with women,will you get all the rewards of networking with the wider business community? This 
article explores the English trend of networking for female entrepreneurs, and is well worth and read a think through.

What’s your take on women-only networking-is it good, bad or indifferent for your career advancement?


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