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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Thursday, June 01, 2006

 

Let's make a deal

Jory Des Jardins has another great post up on the BlogHer site. In this post, she ponders the "demotion" of pregnant ABC News Co-Anchor Elizabeth Vargas. She also writes about women networking with other women and how we don't do enough of it. She quotes Fran Maier, Executive Director and President of TrustE and co-founder of Match.com:

"In 2004, my MBA class celebrated its 15th reunion. ...I saw many of my female friends and we spoke of the last time the families got together, I began to notice that the guys seemed to be reminding one another not only of social engagements but that deal they worked on or that partnership they formed. At first, I thought I was being overly sensitive, but more and more I saw the truth – the men in my class really did work with one another, not just in spotty, one-time ways but regularly and in significant ways.

[...]

After the reunion, I checked in with some of my female friends still working outside the home, and we all agreed that we did not reach out to each other professionally. We keep our professional lives separate. ... we agreed that the lack of serious networking and deal making was one reason we could own for not necessarily achieving the same level of success as many of the men (or having to work so much harder for it). We don't do the deal with each other. We don't hire and seek out one another as much. We need to do the deal. With the guys, for sure, but especially with other women."

Jory ended her post with another remark by Fran: "DO THE DEAL. Reach out to other women. Form a partnership, buy the service, give the reference, hire the talent and when all things are pretty equal (do they have to be exactly equal?) then support the women. Do the Deal. Tell others they need to do the deal. Make it a cause, make it second nature. The guys do."

Jory's post was interesting to me for a number of reasons, but because I am a SAHM, I'll tell you why I thought it was very much applicable to my current occupation of "mother." This is the comment I left for Jory:

"This is along the lines of something I recently was discussing with another woman from my mothers club. She was lamenting the fact that the mothers in the club didn't network with each other. I was surprised when she first mentioned it because I seriously hadn't considered it; I was using the club as a way to meet other moms. I didn't associate the other moms with networking opportunities.

She illustrated some ways in which my thinking was wrong. For one thing, many women in our club also work. They could be using the club email list to find job seekers and yet they rarely do. And many moms might enjoy finding out about job opportunities, too, especially opportunities for part time employment that didn't involve plastic or cooking utensils.

But even more generally, knowing a woman's skill set might come in handy when you were wondering whom to hire to design a website or write an article or sell a house. In the mothers club, we tend to think "mother" is the occupation of a woman once she has a child. That kind of thinking isn't helping the women understand each other's potential outside of the possibility of a playgroup partner. The separation of personal and professional is very much in effect.

It's almost taboo to talk about returning to work when you're with a group of SAHMs. I've found this out the hard (and silent) way. And yet, it's ridiculous to think a woman who opts out of work for a number of years to raise an infant won't one day return to "work," whatever that means. Most women do; most women want to. But the women I've met (many, not all) don't want to think that far into the future.

So perhaps in addition to networking more (networking is not a dirty word!), having goals and a life vision that extends beyond the childbearing years is important, too."

Is what I wrote true for you at all? It certainly is for me. I've written before about the timeline of my life. I knew I wanted kids by a certain age, but after that? I thought I would become a working mother and that would be that. End of story. Now that I no longer am employed, now that I have this wonderful opportunity to stay home and ponder life (my kids's and my own), I am also pondering this question: What do I want to do with my life?

While I've been pondering this question, I've been blogging, and I've been writing, and guess what? The answer is starting to reveal itself, in many ways due to the influence of people like Jory and her partners Elisa Camahort and Lisa Stone. I certainly didn't go to BlogHer last year with the idea that I would be networking, but--lo and behold--that's what I ended up doing.

And it felt pretty good. And it continues to feel good. And it's not hard, nor does it make me feel shameful or dirty. And I write those words with only half a smirk on my face because I know that women still have a long way to go when it comes to looking at each other in the way that men do. Okay, that didn't come out right, but I hope you understand what I mean. Men see each other and seek each other out as business buddies; women don't. And that's too bad.

So I'm helping Jory spread the word about DOING THE DEAL. Do you need to hire a technical writer? Email me; I've got a friend currently doing freelance work. Do you need somebody to re-design your boring blog template? Try Karen Rani. Do you want to buy or sell a house in San Mateo County? Tell Linda Wei that Mary Tsao sent you. What about you? What do you do? How do you want to be known? What kind of a deal are you looking to make?


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