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Recommendations from the AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network's Second Annual Workshop

AS/COA Women's Networking Event

Participants discussed challenges in their careers. (Image: Roey Yohai)

November 04, 2013

On October 11, the Americas Society/Council of the Americas’ Women’s Hemispheric Network held its second annual workshop: “Cultivating the Next Generation of Female Leaders: Journeys that Inspire.” Businesswomen, professionals, entrepreneurs, and private- and public-sector leaders from around the hemisphere shared stories and experiences, opening a dialogue about the importance of mentorship and sponsorship in promoting female leadership in the workforce.

Participants were given questions about leadership and building a network. Here are their answers, advice, and recommendations.

What has been/what are your biggest challenges as a woman advancing into a leadership role at your company?

  • Micromanaging
  • Not demanding equal pay
  • Lack of female mentors/sponsors
  • Childcare/elder care concerns
  • Holding ourselves back; self-doubt/lack of confidence/trouble finding our voice
  • Trying to be everyone’s friend: people will respect who you are; that you’re fair, honorable, and accurate; not necessarily that you’re everyone’s friend
  • Fear of self-promoting or promoting other women: going the distance for someone else when you’re insecure in your own career is almost impossible
  • Women not supporting and intentionally holding other women back
  • Both conscious and unconscious bias, e.g. men feeling more comfortable working with other men, women not being seen as leaders
  • Cultural bias rooted in pre-conceived notions of how a woman should “value” family over business
  • Managing effectively, being more honest about deliverables and timeframe, learning to set limits
  • Work-life balance, seeing both as part of a whole: hard to remember that with enough passion, you can do it all
  • Reconciling having a career in one place, and your heart/family in another
  • Fuzzy boundaries, slightly underhanded men not respecting your role and doing small things that undermine you.
  • LinkedIn Group
    • Keep it a safe, confidential space where people can share stories/experiences and specific questions can be raised regarding challenges women face in their careers
    • Should offer relevant, inspiring, and enticing content, e.g. articles; book/movie recommendations; a different woman featured every month
    • Participants should also be able to post related events on the page
    • Use other social media outlets to connect to LinkedIn
    • Encourage group discussions through questions
  • Identify common interests/location within the network; group people accordingly
  • Create other modes of communication, like quarterly conference calls among similar interest/industry groups
  • Adapt full-day workshops locally across Latin America and create local chapters
  • Promote active engagement of the network’s members and outreach to new members
  • Create a calendar of events so network members can participate when traveling
  • Create a talent pool within the network, so headhunters could look for our talent
  • Work to influence gender-promoting policies
  • Obtain statistics on women in the workforce in Latin America
  • Use the website and LinkedIn group to generate networking and mentorship opportunities
  • Create a list of volunteer mentors
  • Invite men, particularly men in middle management, to the next workshop.

What are you looking to get out of this workshop and the Women’s Hemispheric Network?

  • Learning how to:
    • Find a sponsor
    • Navigate workplace power dynamics
    • Advance careers
    • Drive our own motivation
    • Feel fearless to push ourselves to the next move
    • Feel empowered to make decisions in the workplace
    • Create partnerships with other women; sometimes hard to find in a work environment
    • Educate men and women about women’s experiences in the workforce and how to increase numbers of female leaders across a company
  • Meet and interact with other powerful women/role models who want to make an impact
  • Looking for insight and inspiration, to hear from the women with successful careers
  • Help to shape more enlightened employees, which will lead to more enlightened companies
  • Space for self-reflection and the sharing of experiences
  • Chance to inspire the next generation of women, for them to make a difference and make their voices heard.