9 Female Work Collectives Helping Women Get Ahead In 2017

There's never been a better time to join a girl gang.

09/05/2017 16:14 | Updated 10 May 2017

From glass ceilings and the gender pay gap to maternity discrimination and sexual harassment, the odds are stacked against women in the working world.

Women still earn 18% less than their male colleagues in the UK, according to the most recent government figures. This dwindles even further when comparing the salaries of women from ethnic minorities.

Only a quarter of board members at FTSE 100 companies are female and on the 2015 list there were more CEOs named Dave or David than there were women. Slow clap.

Fed up of waiting around for change, women are taking matters into their own hands by starting work collectives and networking groups to help other women get ahead and reach their full potential.

Providing everything from panel discussions with industry leaders to mentoring opportunities, there’s never been a better time to join a girl gang.

We’ve rounded up the most empowering work collectives helping women working in creative industries, tech, media and more.

Women Who

Women Who

Women Who is for female creatives in the broadest sense. A network of everyone from artists, and thinkers to restaurateurs, it caters freelancers who “miss out on the career resources of staffers”.

Events run once a month, ranging from panel discussions and practical workshops, to cocktail-fuelled socials.

The group was set up by author Otegha Uwagba, whose first book Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women is released in June 2017. She told HuffPost UK: “I wanted to connect with like-minded creative women, and couldn’t see an existing space for that that wasn’t really bland and corporate, or actually reflected the experiences of the generation of ambitious, entrepreneurial creative women I’m part of - so I decided to create my own!

“My focus is very much on establishing a platform that does more than pay lip service to vague notions of ‘empowerment’, and actually provides working women with the practical resources they need to take control of their careers. This isn’t about hashtag feminism…”

Membership:

There are more than 1000 women in the wider community.

Joining the community is free, but events are ticketed.

Find out more here.

Marguerite

Dunja Opalko

Women working in the visual arts need look no further than Marguerite, a group offering exclusive experiences that simply ooze girl power and a lot of fun.

Named after Peggy ‘Marguerite’ Guggenheim, the group’s main raison d’etre is to help accelerate women’s careers by facilitating meaningful connections and hosting inspiring discussions.

Founder Joanna Payne (who cut her teeth at Frieze Art Fair) told HuffPost UK: “Like many groups, Marguerite boasts an amazingly dynamic group of women to share your time with but what really sets us apart is our events. The access we are able to offer our members to some of the most impressive movers and shakers in the art world today is unrivalled.

“The British fashion and portrait photographer Rankin shot individual portraits for 40 of our members last year and both the Director of Frieze Fairs and the Director of Tate Modern hosted events for us earlier this year.

“The 2017 Marguerite Summer Programme in partnership with THE OUTNET.COM includes a breakfast with artist Mary McCartney, our Marguerite Summer Party 2017 in support of Women for Women International and a FEMpowerment Day for women wanting to werk it in the work place - focusing on stress, confidence and looking after your mental as well as physical health.”

Membership:

Marguerite currently has 195 members, Payne is keen to keep the setting intimate to facilitate networking.

Membership starts at £25 per month. In late Summer 2017, Marguerite will introduce a new ‘Guggenheim Jeune’ membership which will be aimed at women who are still students or just starting out in their careers. 

Find out more here.

DevelopHer

DevelopHer

One of the most established and largest groups on the list, DevelopHer (formerly Girls In Tech UK) has been running since 2012 and has more than 11,000 women in its global community.

DevelopHer, which was founded by Emily Atkinson (now-Managing Director), runs monthly speaker events, code workshops and development programs, including mentoring.

A spokesperson said: “We are serious about ensuring that women weren’t just aware of the diversity issue but have the platform to develop themselves, their careers and the change needed in the industry.”

DevelopHer is keen on partnering with other diversity and tech groups across the world with similar values to build a strong network of communities that can support each other and make a difference.

Membership:

Joining the community is free, just sign up to the mailing list. 

Find out more here.

Ladies Of Restaurants 

Gary John Norman via Getty Images
Stock image

Set up by three kick-ass women bossing the restaurant industry - Natalia Ribbe-Szrok (Eighty Six List), Grace Willis (Spring) and Libby Andrews (Pho) - Ladies of Restaurants is a place to network, share advice and find mentors (informally at present, but they hope to create a more structured programme).

“Ladies of Restaurants started out as a bit of a play on ‘ladies who lunch’, but we wanted our ‘lunches’ have purpose,” they said. “There wasn’t another group or place we could go to that could help or give advice or just be a place to vent about work difficulties.”

The group meet a few times per year for food or drinks and share a private Facebook group, but are introducing a calendar of events in 2017, featuring allsorts including panel discussions and Q&As.

Membership:

Ladies Of Restaurants currently has about 300 members.

Joining the community is free, but events are ticketed. To become a member you must work in some area of hospitality – whether that’s front of house, back of house, wine, or even in a head office / marketing role.

Find out more here.

Trouble Club

Trouble Club

The Trouble Club meet once or twice a month for dinners in fancy venues such as The Groucho or The Corinthia Hotel to talk about anything from politics and tech to arts and sex. Their back catalog of speakers include the likes of Bonnie Greer, Stella Creasy and Mary Beard.

“We don’t accept wallflowers,” explained journalist and founder Joy Lo Dico. “We are a group of smart and vocal women who can talk and argue about all sorts of subjects. Oh, and we put women on stage to prove the point there’s no shortage of women experts.”

The programme in London continues to grow but Lo Dico is also exploring other cities, such as Manchester and Bristol, and developing ties across Europe. The group have just returned from a trip to Budapest and already planning one to Istanbul.

Membership:

Membership is £45 for six months. The Trouble Club has a few hundred paid-up members and around 3,000 in its wider circle.

Find out more here.

Twenty Seventeen

Lauren Armes

This is a group of female thought-leaders and innovators working in the wellness industry, across natural beauty, athleisure, fitness, food and beverage, travel and technology.

Currently the group operates as a private Facebook group with a view to meeting in person soon. The network use the group to collaborate, information share and ultimately creating an environment in which women can share challenges and seek out valuable advice.

Lauren Armes speaker, entrepreneur and founder of Welltodo and Twenty Seventeen, told HuffPost UK: “Women have a uniquely feminine approach to business and brand-building that should be celebrated; and a unique way of nurturing and supporting one another...

“As a business coach for women in the wellness industry, I wanted to bring this community together in a more meaningful way. I realised that women in business have unique struggles and really value a space in which they can openly share these, and get feedback from like-minded, entrepreneurial thinkers who have been there, done that!”

Membership:

There are currently over 100 members, with room for many more women who are actively involved in the business of wellness to join. To become a member, simply request to join via the Facebook Page: Twenty Seventeen by Lauren Armes.

Find out more here.

GRLPWR Gang

OLIVIA RICHARDSON

GrlPwr Gang is a group of creative women with a whole load of sass and, you guessed it, girl power. For a sense of their vibe, just check out their Instagram (which boasts more than 17,000 followers).

The group come together online and in person for media networking, creative support, team projects, sharing ideas and “girl chat”, naturally. Their IRL meetings are are part-talk, part-networking and take place once a month.

Founder Kirsti Hadley explained: “GIRLS HELPING GIRLS is our mantra and there are 3 key requirements for us when accepting members, girls helping girls break into the creative industries, girls helping girls generate new revenue streams by collaborating on projects together and girls helping girls by being respectful and kind to one another.

“There is a real sense of sisterhood between members because of it.”

Membership:

50 members based in UK and LA and thousands of Instagram followers. Membership is free, provided the potential members are willing to sign up to the GrlPwr Gang mantra.

Find out more here.

The Quarter Club

The Quarter Club
Jo Duncombe (L) and Saskia Roddick at a Salon

Born partly out of the idea of so-called quarter life crisis, The Quarter Club was established as a place for women of a certain age to meet, network, learn and support one-another.

The Quarter Club takes shape in quarterly Salons, each of which marks a new season and a new theme, drawing on words such as Courage and Power. A handful of female speakers discuss the theme the theme and attendees are encouraged to discuss it afterwards. 

They told HuffPost UK: “We find that the broad themes at The Quarter Club help to act as a point of unity for women in the room. And that encouraging shared thinking and debate around things like Decision and Balance creates an immediate sense of sisterhood.

“It’s from this kind of connection that genuine and very authentic collaborations come about between our attendees.”

There are other elements to the club including Quarter Labs (skills focused workshops, anything from coding to PR) and Pitching Parlours (a space to pitch an idea to a group of expert women for feedback).

Membership:

Joining the community is free, but events are ticketed.

Find out more here.

Blooming Founders

Blooming Founders

For those starting their own business singlehandedly, the world of entrepreneurship can be isolating and challenging.

That’s why serial entrepreneur Lu Li started Blooming Founders, a network of female founders and freelancers, where women could make connections and ask those all-important questions in a supportive environment.

“I noticed a gap in the startup ecosystem: it is so male-dominated, that nobody seems to care for female founders and their challenges,” she told HuffPost UK. “So, I decided to do something about it because I know that female founders are a niche, but fast growing segment.”

The fortnightly events are a mixture of panel interviews with influential women in entrepreneurship and practical workshops around topics such as investment.

Membership

Joining the community is free, but events are ticketed.

Find out more here.

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