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Open Instagram, and you’ll be greeted with endless accounts claiming to preach female empowerment through all-pink-everything memes, references to mimosas over brunch, and cheesy girlboss slogans. That’s all fine - but as we all know, just because we see something on social media, doesn’t mean it’s actually happening in real life.
We know women championing women is a good thing, but what is the actual impact in the real world of these supportive female relationships? In this article, we take a look into the facts and figures behind women supporting women, and find out why it’s needed if we want to achieve gender equality. (Which, duh, of course we do.)
The gender pay gap is one of the most talked-about topics of the moment - and quite rightly so. Belgium is one of the countries in Europe with the best record when it comes to the gender pay gap, but even there, the gap is 8%. That’s 8% too much. As if it weren’t bad enough to be paid less than men for the same job, 66% of women report experiencing imposter syndrome, the feeling like they don’t deserve a seat at the table. It’s something that men also experience, of course, but at a much lower rate - only half of men reported the same feelings in the study. Women face sexual harassment in the workplace, they fear for their jobs while on maternity leave, and feel enormous pressure not to show emotion at work. So what can we actually do to make sure women are given a fair chance to thrive at work?
Luckily, research has shown that peer-to-peer female relationships and mentorships - in other words, female empowerment in real life - hold the key to unlocking potential. The New York Times reports that everything else being equal, women benefit more than men from mentorship in the workplace. This could be because women have a lot to gain from seeing a female role model rise to the top of her professional gain, or because her mentor is able to recommend her for promotions to higher-up members of staff. While women were traditionally very underrepresented in the workforce, in 2019 the gap is (thankfully) narrowing every year.
Even if you don’t have a mentor at work, female friendships with colleagues who are your peers can also be beneficial. Having conversations with women in similar positions to you can help you feel less alone, and it’s always great to have like-minded people to turn to for advice when you’re going in for a difficult meeting with your boss about a promotion or pay rise you’re looking for. If you don’t have any close female colleagues at your workplace, many companies also offer female-only employee groups, where women can get together and share their experiences, and help the company ensure they’re doing enough to make sure all employees feel welcome and included.
KinArmat’s new collection with Christina de Witte - aka the illustrator Chrostin - is a physical representation of the magic that happens when women get together and support each other. The collection is called Sisters in Business, and we’re so excited to share it with you. The collection proves that women don’t have to be in competition - KinArmat and Chrostin are both run by young women from Mechelen, but instead of being rivals, we have come together to create something really amazing. It’s a metaphor for the realities of life: when women come together and create partnerships together, both in business and in their personal lives, everyone wins. We really are stronger together.