Sam Massey and Emma Blaney, two of the founding members of Doyenne, discuss their motivations for creating the group and take a look at the science that might have been behind it. Authored by Emma Blaney, Founder and Director of Productive Property People.
Doyenne was founded by Alice Cadfan-Lewis, Founder and Director of Block Recruit, Samantha Massey, Business Development Manager for HML Group and myself, Emma Blaney. As you would expect the motivation to be a part of Doyenne was intrinsically linked to our personal experiences however it seems there may have been social mechanism that inherently drove us to create the leasehold sectors first women’s only platform.
As we discussed her drive for wanting to be part of Doyenne, Sam recalls when she started her career in property management. Sam remembers a distinct lack of women in senior positions and how, not just her workplace but the industry, very much felt like a ‘boys club’. With what appeared to be too few women, Sam had little to no ability to get female support when learning the ropes and it was especially difficult to see a clear career trajectory when there were so few other women who were known publicly for their successes or able to provide support and encouragement. Through Doyenne, Sam hopes that young female recruits will not only be able to have a support network but get a full understanding of the opportunities and successes available to them.
For me however, having worked client side for most of my career, I have had the pleasure of meeting successful women from all different fields across the sector very early on. I have always counted myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet some truly incredible women that inspired me and helped me develop my knowledge and passion for the industry. There was of course one big frustration… being mistaken as a secretary! This has happened to many of my peers, some of whom are of phenomenal intellect and in great positions, but still they struggle to get the recognition they have worked for and deserve. Doyenne provided an opportunity to connect but also promote women and their successes in our industry.
It seems, however, that maybe it wasn’t just our own experiences that drove us to creating Doyenne at all. When putting together the content of this article I stumbled across a thought-provoking entry in The Atlantic by Marianne Cooper titled ‘Why women (sometimes) don’t help other women’. This article explores the premise that there are two distinct types of behaviour displayed by women when dealing with other women known as The Righteous Woman or the Queen Bee. The Righteous Woman couldn’t be said better than it was by Madeline Albright, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”. The Queen Bee syndrome however is based on the belief that women simply cannot get along.
Following several studies that Marianne Cooper refers to, it seems that ‘Queen Bee behaviours are triggered in male dominated environments in which women are devalued’. Many Queen Bees advance their careers by separating themselves from other women and trying to associate themselves and their behaviours to be more in line with male traits. I think it is fair to say that the leasehold sector has been a struggle for women to break and even now there is still so few women at the top. Don’t be get me wrong there are some true exceptions and inspirations, but there is no denying it is still heavily dominated by men which almost instigates a Queen Bee approach to advancement.
Doyenne gives us the opportunity to step away from this and become more like the Righteous Woman. This is of course an ideal but there has be more to gain from an industry that promotes and supports the growth and advancement of women, then one that requires you to denounce your gender and ‘man up’. The studies are clear, women can get along, and more than that we can thrive if we work together and support each other. It should no longer be the case that behind every great man there is a great woman, let’s just be great women!
Whether it was just our experiences or whether it was in some way linked to a deeper sociological need to support women, Doyenne is a much-needed platform for open communication and inspiration in the leasehold sector. We really hope you will be able to attend the next event on the 23rd March 2017 and that you enjoyed this article. Doyennes Discuss will be a monthly feature and if you would like to get involved or have a topic you would like us to cover please just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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