- Mary Schreiber Swenson
You May Not Know Me, but I am Your Sister: Why Women Need to Support Women
While the women’s liberation movement has undeniably made incredible forward progress over the course of the last century, there are still plenty of steps left to be made before we reach true gender equity. Only 5 percent of global Chief Executive Officers are women as of 2020, compared to 95 percent of these positions being filled by men, while the average woman makes a salary only 83 percent of what their male counterparts earn annually.
With so much progress left to be made, one may expect women to team up together and fight in tandem in the name of equality. However, internalized sexism and female rivalry has instead become widespread in the 21st century, pitting women against each other in competition over a wide variety of subjects. Whether romantic, professional, or personal, the historic dismissal of the female gender in favor of men has caused many women to believe they must prove themselves over other women to receive recognition from their male peers, an approach that only exacerbates the gender inequality issue further.
Though women are certainly powerful on their own, incredible things can occur when we break up the boy’s club, lift up one another and support our fellow women to achieve their dreams. This is evident in just executive leadership alone; research from the Harvard Business Review shows that women with a close circle of female contacts are more likely to land high-profile executive positions, higher wages, and increased authority in their field of expertise than women with a male-dominated network.
“Across all our companies in multiple sectors and countries, we see access to networks as one of the key barriers preventing women from advancing,” Diversio CEO Laura McGee told Forbes. “We know that women are under-sponsored by senior men, and may need to compensate by developing strong professional relationships with other women. My hypothesis on the research findings is that these women are effectively acting as mentors and sponsors for one another.”
"Still too few women have reached the CEO level of the largest companies in each country," said Global Summit of Women Chair Irene Natividad.
This same ethos can extend into the world of venture capital, as women-led ventures only received 2 percent of the billions of dollars invested into global businesses in 2021. As such, there’s a clear need for women venture capitalists choosing to focus on and lift up female-led enterprises – though, given venture capital’s continued domination by men, the industry’s male figures similarly should put a heightened focus on funneling their money into femtech.
The effects of women supporting other women are as far-reaching as potentially affecting cancer patients’ prognosis; a research study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology revealed that early-stage female breast cancer patients were four times more likely to pass away from the disease if they were didn’t have any close friendships with fellow women, while those with a more robust group of friends had a demonstrably more favorable survival rate.
Linked by our inherent femininity and the experiences shared by women across the world, the possibilities are limitless when we uplift and support each other toward success. You may not know me, but I am your sister – and through the power of that sisterhood, we can change the world for the better, together.