THE OLD GIRLS' CLUB. Why is it a good idea to hold networking events for women only?
Because historically male institutions -- like law firms, Wall Street, opinion journalism (ahem) -- have had male-centric bonding and networking events in place for decades. Because most of my potential female mentors immediately head home to their children at the end of the workday, and opportunities to grab a drink with them or interact outside the office don't materialize very often. Because women are more likely to make connections and pull each other up the ladder if they have a chance to interact in an all-female environment. Because it's fun.
It's a common complaint among young women professionals I know that the women above them on the ladder aren't very willing to lend a hand up. Women-only events, where women get a chance to talk to one another in a slightly more casual setting, are one way to ease these tensions.
Books like Tales from the Boom-Boom Room have documented the prevailing male networking culture with descriptions of female traders excluded from golf outings and poker nights, or forced to forge business bonds at strip clubs. Now women-only events have some dudes feeling left out, poor things.
Some male executives think ambitious women would be wiser to learn to play golf -- still a primary way men in business socialize and lay the groundwork for deal making. And some women are ambivalent about women-only events that may cause them to be viewed as "frivolous."
Yeah, there's nothing frivolous about golf.