Southern Ms. Part III: Networking

This week the female clerks in my building are gathering for our second "Wine on Wednesday." Wednesday was chosen because that's when the male clerks in the building hold practice for their all-male basketball league.

For many years I've heard the stories about the exclusion of women from valuable athletics-based networking events. Whether it be the company softball team or the annual super-bowl pool, these always seemed like tell-tale signs of latent discrimination. I've also heard about the mani-pedi events firms organize for women to compensate, and then how these events were terminated due to IRS crackdowns. Having never been in an office big enough to exclude anybody this was all just second-hand info at best for me.

Well now I'm in the thick of it. Not only is there an all-male basketball league, but my boss has standing lunchtime sporting matches, in which women are allowed but not encouraged. But it doesn't feel like that big a deal. First of all I have the hand-eye coordination of a vegetable-so at the very least I don't feel like I'm missing something I would actually enjoy. Also, I've been invited to join the clerk's kickball team, which apparently is all in good fun and so not fundamentally worsened by my participation. I've also attended various spectator sports with co-workers. And now to boot we ladies have our very own exclusive get together, and ours involves wine and yumminess-much more up my alley.

I think part of the reason gender-exclusive networking is an easier pill to swallow is because there's a level of professional gender equity here. Almost half the judges in my building are women. More than half the clerks are women. Even if I were limited to female-networking, which I'm not, I would still be talking to some of the most qualified, impressive, ambitous, and influencial people in the building. HOW COOL IS THAT!?!

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