First published on 20 Jan 2014. Updated on 11 Mar 2014.
Ladies and … ladies, welcome to the wide world of networking groups just for you. We've found four incredibly active communities who put on bucketloads of events – from dinners to talks to conferences – aimed at connecting women.
The founders of Girls Club wanted to create a different type of networking group, “instead of it just being one of those meetups where people come along and it’s like, 'You’re there! Talk to each other!'” So says Fox Woods, who started it with Shannon Steinfort in early 2013.
It's the monthly themes that sets Girls Club apart. They alternate between light-hearted topics (try ‘my style’) and make-you-think ones (‘resilience’). There’s a run sheet, activities, a discussion guide. Sometimes there are even assignments – you might watch a video on gender bias, say – before the meetup. It’s still socialising, but with a purpose.
Who they cater to: People who want proactive networking
Events: Brunch first Sunday of the month
Geeks, unite! Melbourne’s 750-strong community is headed by Tammy Butow (whose geek credentials are so strong she built her first website age 12). Founded in London in 2005, Girl Geek Dinners groups are in 45 countries, with Melbourne jumping on board in 2011.
Girl Geeks throw their eponymous dinners, but also put on talks on subjects as diverse as Wordpress blogging, programming, and even social media. This isn’t just for geeks, dorks, and nerds: “There are people from all over – marketing, fashion, health, science,” says Butow. “I didn’t want to only learn from people in technology.” (Geeky guys: you’re welcome, too!)
Who they cater to: Lifelong learners
Events: Periodic dinners, plus a two-day conference in September
Celebrating their 10th year in Melbourne, CWC caters to the artistic crowd. Tess McCabe, graphic designer and CWC coordinator, took over the reins in 2009. “The one common thread [about attendees] is people are working for themselves – either full-time or on the side,” she says. "And they’re passionate about making what they love.”
Events (open to anyone) feature stars of the creative world, such as Lucy Feagans of the Design Files and Pip Lincolne of Meet Me at Mike’s. CWC has a huge online presence, too, with a blog, recordings of their talks, and a podcast. Want more? Read their two-volume book, Conversations with Creative Women.
Who they cater to: Artsy types
Events: Talks at Frankie & Swiss (8/199 Toorak Rd, South Yarra); bi-monthly member’s morning teas at various locations. $5-$20
Female entrepreneurs, this one’s for you. Started in 2011 in Melbourne, the League is now in every major city in Australia, with hopes of conquering New Zealand and the US.
Their focus is on women with businesses: be it someone who’s a fully-fledged entrepreneur, has a part-time gig, or is just thinking about starting one. There’s no age limit to who can come along: “It’s about attitude more than age,” says general manager Chiquita Searle.
Anyone’s welcome for their monthly breakfasts, but it’s members-only for the working lunches (covering everything from strategy to media angles) with professionals in the industry.
Who they cater to: Entrepreneurs
Events: Breakfasts first Tuesday of the month ($28-$38)