Are female-only events sexist or necessary?

Are female-only events sexist or necessary?

Angela de Souza of the Women’s Business Club explains why it’s important for women to network with other females.

This may not be a ‘politically correct’ topic for the 21st century, but I firmly believe it remains an important subject to discuss. And it’s still a relatively hot issue which has left men and women more divided than ever. It is a question which requires much debate and I will do my best to explain whether ‘It’s time to end women-only events or if they are still essential and relevant in the modern world‘?

If I shared some of the messages which I receive from time to time, on LinkedIn, then I will guarantee that you will be shocked by the rudeness of some people. And it’s not just men who oppose women-only networking. Females are also prone to abusive messaging, whether via social media or in person. I often hear women shouting derogatory comments in my direction when I am speaking at an event. It’s OK to have different opinions but it’s rude to be abusive.

Here is one of the messages I have received. A male chief executive of a British coaching business said this: Not interested in anything that is sexist. Your event is clearly for women only. In today’s world the irony of your business model is beyond belief. Surely in today’s world, whatever your sex, you are good enough. Why do you feel the need to focus on women only? Please take me off your mailing list.

Let me make it clear. It has nothing to do with whether someone is good enough ‘ regardless of gender. We are not saying women are good, and men are not. In fact, when women meet up for a networking event, they rarely talk about men at all. It’s more about certain topics women need to discuss but sometimes feel uncomfortable and reluctant to do so in the company of men.

Perhaps there is a perception that women-only events are all about ‘men-bashing’, but nothing could be further from the truth. On another occasion, an unnamed male business professional within the health insurance sector said: I find this very sexist to be honest, Angela. What has gender got to do with anything, we are all the same.

Once again, it’s a misunderstanding because we are not all the same. We are all equally important and valuable but definitely not the same. This is so important because it might help people understand why women are drawn to each other ‘ and especially for business support.

Chief executive of Lady Geek, Belinda Parmar, remarked on the subject of equality: I want to speak at events where women and men are listening. This is not a women’s problem but a society problem. And we need the whole of society to change it.

In my humble opinion, even in a world of equality, women would still want to meet in groups with other women. Yet there is still an imbalance between the genders, which means society needs to redress this issue and strive for equality. But that is not why women meet in groups across the world. They meet for reasons which have existed since the beginning of time, and are certainly here to stay.   

So why do some businesses continue to offer women-only events, when it quite clearly remains a ‘marmite’ topic which yields a whole range of emotions and reactions? The reasons range from basic science to a number of insecurities which some women face. And here are the top three:


According to a study conducted by the Kellogg School of Management, women who try to network in the same manner as men often experience a slump in performance and career progression. And all because they are missing the support of an inner circle of women! Research shows that women, who share career advice with other females, are nearly three-times more likely to secure a better job than those who lack a support system.


Sometimes we just want to chat with other women about our business issues. There are many things we simply wouldn’t want to talk to a man about. These include topics such as the menopause or the sensitive subject of lactating. Women tend to mix business and personal issues quite easily, resulting in greater openness but also increased vulnerability. These types of conversations do not happen at mixed events.


The purpose of Women’s Business Club events is to focus just as much on building confidence and courage, as it is about learning practical skills and growing a business. Once women grow more confident, they are more likely to excel at work and thrive alongside male counterparts. Women-only spaces are still important and relevant, and always will be.

Angela De Souza
Angela De Souza

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