Female friendships are often looked at from sceptical gaze. Can women be honest and sincere friends? Do jealousy and rivalry override the sense of sisterhood among women? Can women root for each other’s success as genuinely as men do, or at least we assume them to do? This stereotyping of female friendships as “shallow” and unyielding cannot be farther from truth. Women not only share close and healthy bonds as friends, they can also play a key role in ensuring their friends’ success.
- Female friendships are touted to be “shallow” and unyielding. But that is very far from the truth.
- Strong female friendships have the potential to positively impact women’s careers.
- Having successful female friends can ensure that you get sound career advice and have a support system that understands your ordeal.
- This support system becomes necessary especially due to gender bias at work and social aversion to heterosexual friendships which prompts men and women to keep a distance at the workplace.
Women not only share close and healthy bonds as friends, they can also play a key role in ensuring their friends’ success.
A research whose findings were published in Harvard Business Review last year said, “Women who were in the top quartile of centrality and had a female-dominated inner circle of 1-3 women landed leadership positions that were 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers lacking this combination.” Which can loosely be translated as – if you have strong and successful close female friends then your chances to have a flourishing career are higher.
The research further reveals that the gender composition of men’s networks didn’t matter when it comes to job placement. The reason for this could be that “men don’t need the kind of gender-related private information that women need to navigate male-dominated professions.”
Some 42 percent of the women who participate in a study conducted by Booking.com last year said that they have faced bias at the workplace. What’s more the percentage only got higher up on the corporate ladder, as 52 per cent of women in senior management roles and 57 per cent of women working as executive board members admitted to experiencing gender bias at the workplace. This bias makes it difficult for women to not only have flourishing careers without much hassle but also advance swiftly up the professional ladder.
In such situations, it helps to have someone who can give you productive advice. A woman who has already overcome struggles in a profile can not only give tips but also act as a sounding board and provide emotional support to her friends who intend to follow her footsteps. By forming a support system, I am not advocating favouritism or preferential treatment here, which is unethical.
Some 42 percent of the women who participate in a study conducted by Booking.com last year said that they have faced bias at the workplace.
Also, this support system wouldn’t have been necessary if women were treated as equals at work. Secondly, heterosexual friendships are still frowned upon in our society. This means that at a workplace, women and men tend to veer to colleagues of their gender to fraternise. Men become friends with other men and women befriend other female colleagues. Ideally, apart from ending gender bias, this gender-based milling around also needs to make its exit from workplaces, and our society at large.
But alas we live in a far from perfect world. We are a long way from the end of bias and gender barriers in friendships. While the attitude that creates a gender divide at work and in the society can be gradually weeded out, till that day arrives, women must lend personal and professional support to each other.
So whenever you are with your friends, don’t shy about discussing your career with them. Share your experiences and struggles, raise your doubts vociferously and never shy away from seeking advice, be it for formatting your CV or tips on cracking an interview or any difficulty that you may be encountering at work. And more importantly, always be eager to return this favour. Because as you know, friendship runs both ways, and it is as much about giving, as it is about receiving.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.