Women Supporting Women; and Why it Matters
Jess Fracalossi, The Handle Bar Founder and CEO
March 8th, 2023
The Bahai Faith is a religion, founded in the 19th century that teaches the essential worth of all religions, and the unity of all people. One of the fundamental teachings of the Bahai Faith, is gender equality; and with that, a compelling series of analogies comparing Women and Men to the wings of a bird.
“The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings or parts become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary.”
I believe that as women, we have a unique position & a unique responsibility when it comes to the arduous task of balancing this bird in flight. Women supporting women – constantly, and without hesitation – is paramount for our collective wellbeing.
The importance of an inner circle
Study after study shows women who support other women are more successful in the workplace. Some go on to show that an inner-circle of strong female relationships in the workplace is integral to success and achievement. This inner circle of female support is notably more important for women’s advancement than it is for men. And it makes sense.
The advancements surrounding women’s empowerment in the workplace outpace the societal expectations of women in the home. So we’re existing in a particularly tricky era for the modern, career oriented female. The litany of challenges faced by women, that are uniquely female, require mentorship and counsel. We simply cannot do it without guidance from one another, and most importantly, the encouragement to keep going. So find your women at work, build and maintain your relationships with them as if your future depends on it – because it does!
They say laughter is infectious, and the Shine Theory touts that success is too. Ann Friedman first introduced the term in her article, “Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make The Greatest Friends.”Freidman points out the associative properties of the company you keep, and the general sentiment that a high tide raises all ships. Contrary to taking on a competitive spirit, feeling less-than, or getting lost in comparison – there is endless value to be gained when you befriend the women you admire.
The Shine Theory isn’t just about praising the women you admire who are already successful.. It means investing in other women, celebrating their successes, and elevating voices quieter than your own. Inspired by someone? Let her know. Notice a new hire doing well? Tell her. Support comes in acknowledgement, support comes in vocalizing.
Clearing the hurdles
One of the most immediate things we can do in shaping the future, is to operate with empathy and courage in all of our relationships, and to try and clear the runway for advancement for the women around us. Ask yourself, how are her struggles uniquely female, and how can I ease them?
We have a unique opportunity to show up for one another; to use our super powers; to give, to heal, to empower. And the obstacles come in all forms. A major issue for female advancement into leadership positions, for instance, is an elusive and invisible barrier that has to do with identity. Women may be granted all the same opportunities for advancement as our male counterparts, but if a person doesn’t identify as a leader, she will fail to embody the qualities required to get the job.
Can you imagine the women in your sphere of influence? How does your relationship shape how she sees herself? What are her aspirations and how can you help her embody an identity that supports them?
History, tradition – even evolution – has created a deep seated tendency for competition amongst women. In modern times, this competition is often subconscious and can take root alongside a scarcity mindset. But when we lean into abundance, and support each other freely, we drive change.
Looking back at the generations of women before me, working feverishly to clear the runway for my advancement… I am so grateful for their relentless work, and honored to carry my load today. Happy International Women’s Day to You. Keep shining on the women in your life, the feminine half of our bird in flight💫