These brilliant online feminist networks can offer you networking opportunities with other like-minded women, career support and advice and tonnes of inspiration.
We knew that lockdown had changed the world of work, but what started off as a bid for future flexibility in and out of the office and a remoulding of the typical 9-5 desk job, has developed into a moment in history where many of us have sat back and thought “is this really what I want from my life?” It’s a question that we’ve all had four months or so to think about.
This pause to think has not only inspired people to start working laterally, outside of the box and as their own bosses but has been met with a deluge of financial strain as the UK now approaches a recession.
It’s the best of times and the worst of times, as people challenge the world of work’s status quo while the country’s financial security is unknown. Essentially, this the moment that for many people, support is most crucial.
That’s where online women’s networks come in. They offer community, advice, resources and networking, they’re what women looking to forge ahead in their careers need to optimise.
Elspeth Merry and Emma-Louise Boynton, co-founders of women’s careers network Her Hustle, explain to Stylist.co.uk why now is the time to join an online community: “The world of work was already changing fast thanks to technoligsation. Then Covid hit and expedited many of the higher-level shifts we were seeing in both what we do and how we work.
“At this critical juncture, when the future of work is being redefined, we want women to be the ones who benefit from the changes ahead. We want women to be the ones in the driver’s seat, able to mould their careers in a way that works for them, so that women are thriving rather than merely surviving in the face of the onslaught of changes set to ensue.”
But it’s not going to be easy. Thanks to the worst recession on record and the fact that it will hit under 25s and women the most, They know this will be a difficult time for women wanting to make a change in their careers.
“Now more than ever we think it is vital that women who are setting out to establish their careers on their own terms, going freelance, setting up their own businesses, or working out what being an entrepreneur really means, have a strong, consistent and supportive network of similarly-minded females to lift them up along the way,” they says.
Below you’ll find eight women’s networks, each with their own dazzling USP and a variation of payment options ranging from totally free to around £30 a month, that will provide you with a space to make positive change happen in your career.
I LIKE NETWORKING
Her Hustle is the women’s career platform lifting the veil on the world of work and empowering freelancers, founders and everyone in between to pursue the career they want, on their own terms. They believe everyone should have the opportunity to build a career combining passion, purpose and financial freedom, which is why they’re democratising access to the information and resources you need to get there.
Her Hustle shares with you the reality of that glossy job you may be dreaming of, in a way that didn’t previously seem possible. By following their content, online and offline events, virtual ‘How I Hustle with…’ series, forthcoming career blog and newly launched membership programme, you can hear from the women who already have the job you want and find out how they did it. Membership is priced at £25 a month and includes daily virtual work sessions, lunchtime webinars, access to private Slack channel, networking opportunities and a monthly group career coaching session.
Her Hustle was born out of the strong bond of female friendship and a quarter-life crisis. Elspeth Merry and Emma-Louise Boynton grew up in south east London together, going their separate ways at uni, but finding themselves sat around a dinner table at 25 years old wondering where they were in their lives.
Merry explains to stylist.co.uk: “We wondered, ‘is this what we had planned for where we wanted to be at this age in our career? Did we even have a plan?’ We both felt we had left our careers to chance; through serendipitous meetings and series of what felt like small decisions leading to this one place. We both hated that the career advice we had received sucked, from school to uni, and we didn’t feel we had any of the tools and insight to actually make informed career decisions. We were ‘winging it,’ and understood that growing up as white middle class women in London meant we could ‘wing it’. This was something we wanted to address.”
The eureka moment for Her Hustle happened at the Gentlewoman’s club, an event series set up by the magazine, where women come together a couple of times a year to do an activity and network, drink, laugh and tell stories with other women. They knew then that they wanted to bring women together over important conversations about careers, in a way that was both accessible and relatable. They wanted to create something that they wished they had had in their early twenties.
Women Who is a community for working women which is dedicated to helping women get where they want to be, using both creativity and culture. Whether you have a 9-5 office job, are the founder of a business or are experimenting with a side hustle, Women Who welcomes everyone who wants to give their career a boost.
There’s both offline and online events to help create connections and support, plus access to resources to help you work better. You’ll also be privy to an inspirational newsletter and podcast, as well as lots of diverse, interesting, creative women to learn from.
Otegha Uwagba started this community when she was at a career crossroads, looking for more freedom and creative fulfilment. Uwagba says that her professional relationships with women have helped her give birth to her best ideas, she was also missing that female companionship in her working life at this time and realised that this was part of the problem. So, she started Women Who, a platform for women to connect and inspire each other.
This platform seeks to shine a light on the arts and creative industries to uncover discrimination and create a safe space where inclusive conversations on this subject can be fostered. Through content and community FreeBird helps empower those who identify as women working in this space to challenge the lack of diversity and raise up the women around them.
FreeBird is big on content so by tapping into this network you’ll get access to loads of interviews, features and a heads up about other women doing amazing things. We particularly like FreeBird’s series on small businesses, highlighting cool, independent brands you need to know about.
There are six women in the core FreeBird team: Emma Gaynor, Kirsten Buckmaster, Casimira Hayward-Peel, Kym Moreton, Milly Summer and Muriel de Palma. These women have collectively created and produced work for some of the UK’s largest audiences across TV, film, theatre and live events, with combined experiences which span creative and executive producing, marketing, production management, general management and stage management. Together they share not only a breadth of knowledge and expertise, but experiences of misogyny in the work place. This is what inspired them to join together and shake up an industry which is in dire need of one.
Women in CTRL
This network is created for women working in the music and entertainment industry, either in the business or creative sectors, who are struggling to take their career to the next level due to confidence or support issues.
If you’ve been waiting for the push to start your own business, this is just what you need. Here you’ll find first hand advice on what it’s like getting your business off the ground and practical guides which you can download for free. There’s also a heads up on what computer programmes you’ll need and the technical equipment which will come in handy.
Nadia Khan now has 18 years of experience in the music industry and being her own boss, and she’s passionate about sharing everything she’s learned. When she started out, she says she didn’t have enough money to get public transport to meetings and that buying a takeaway hot chocolate was a thing of her wildest fantasies. She’s now a homeowner, has her dream car and a PR agency, consultancy business and several independent record labels.
The Coven is an online community for female business founders and freelancers who are finding working for themselves isolating. The space aims to create connections, foster friendships and create a bit of that water cooler chat you don’t get working from home.
There are currently over 950 members scattered throughout 11 countries, so there’s plenty of opportunity to make new friends or even meet your next business partner. Plus, you’ll get two video workshops a month, a newsletter from the founder Sapphire and the opportunity to ask her questions in scheduled Agony Aunt sessions. This membership costs £15 a month, while for £36 a month you will also receive a 15 minute call once a month from a member of The Coven team to check in on your goals and progress.
Sapphire Bates started her own business at 21 with no experience, but quickly turned an idea for a flower studio in Essex so successful that she was flooded with more enquiries than she could deal with. She loved being her own boss, but hated how lonely she felt and so The Coven was born. Since then she’s also become a public speaker and writer, giving key notes all over the world.
gal-dem is a media platform which is committed to telling the stories of women and non-binary people of colour using online content and a printed magazine. This platform exists to serve this community and help raise them up, as well as shaking up an industry which is 94% white and 55% male. If you want to support and become more immersed in the work of gal-dem, becoming a member will help you connect with like-minded people.
If you’re passionate about uplifting women and non-binary people of colour then putting your hard earned money towards this platform may appeal to you. It will also get you access to four live events a year, discounts on some of gal-dem’s favourite brands, two pieces of gal-dem merchandise, access to gal-dem WhatsApp groups which give information on interesting job opportunities, exhibitions and happenings. There are different tiers of memberships which range from £4.99 to £29.89 a month.
Liv Little became inspired to create gal-dem after feeling lost and misunderstood as one of the only people of colour during her time at Bristol University. She floated the idea of the magazine on one of the university’s online forums and through this started meeting people she identified and felt she could create something incredible with.
Images: Getty / courtesy of brands