Students interested in gaining personal advice from female professionals can join GW’s branch of The Women’s Network, a national organization aimed at normalizing conversations about gender in professional workplaces.
Student leaders said GW’s chapter of The Women’s Network, added to GW Engage last week, will offer networking opportunities and events with industry professionals, like a discussion with a female astronaut. Junior Zoe Eberstadt-Beattie, the president of GW’s chapter, said the organization intends to help members build confidence as they apply for jobs in areas dominated by men.
“I just found that all of the orgs around me were incredibly competitive things, and they just felt really insecure,” Eberstadt-Beattie said. “It was overwhelming. I didn’t want to be a part of that. When I found The Women’s Network, it was just so clearly about being non-competitive, about empowerment, about being supportive. I was immediately taken in.”
Eberstadt-Beattie said she formed GW’s chapter of The Women’s Network after a friend shared the national organization’s Instagram page with her in July. She said the group has met on Zoom biweekly since they registered with the Division for Student Affairs in September but was not approved as an official student organization until January.
She said the group relied heavily on Instagram to promote itself by following masses of students and consistently posting. She said the group publishes a weekly “Wise Women Wednesday” – a spotlight of a successful female leader in various industries.
She added that members can apply to serve as a campus ambassador, in charge of reaching out to potential members and similar organizations to attend meetings.
Eberstadt-Beattie said the group held seven events on Zoom last semester, like a discussion on working in law with Lisa Beattie Frelinghuysen, a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She said the organization’s social media director also posts recaps of events for members who couldn’t attend an event to watch.
“With these Zoom conferences, we have the opportunity to bring in more people and to record these sessions so that then people can watch them, when they’re in a whole other time zone across the world,” Eberstadt-Beattie said.
Jamie Vinick, a 2020 graduate from Syracuse University and the national organization’s founder, said while most universities remain online, the organization has sought to host Zoom events like panel discussions with female politicians and business leaders for anyone at any school to attend.
Vinick said she originally formed the group in 2017 with the mission of creating a space for students to hold honest conversations about entering male-dominated workplaces and advocating for themselves about issues like salaries. She said the organization has expanded to 23 other universities since she graduated last May.
“My entire time in college, I had to seek out candid conversations related to gender in the workplace,” Vinick said.
Sophomore Sundhya Alter, the vice president of the chapter, said more than 100 students regularly attend events and are subscribed to the organization’s newsletter, many of whom are freshmen interested in meeting other peers while studying online. She said the group plans this semester to emphasize a mix of both professional and community-focused programs, like a LinkedIn workshop series and casual Zoom hangout sessions.
She said the group collaborated with community organizations like the GW Mutual Aid Network last semester for a fundraising event and has been reaching out to other women empowerment-centered student organizations to host events online. She said while operating online has made it difficult to connect with other students and campus organizations, she looks forward to hosting events like alumni panels with other groups online and eventually in person.
“This semester, we’re going to really try to expand our org and get our presence and our message really out there,” Alter said. “The way that we’ll do this is definitely just through more events and trying to engage as much as we can on social media.”
She said the group also launched a mentorship program last semester, which paired 50 freshmen with 25 upperclassmen mentors to offer advice about course planning, internships and self-care. She said students involved in the program are paired based on their interests in a major or career.
“One thing in the professional world for women is we’re all competing against each other,” Alter said. “And there’s not really that sense of support. And so we wanted to erase that whole message of, ‘ambition is bad.’”