Women can be amazingly supportive in female professional groups on Facebook
My top takeaways from reading a year of posts in the Facebook Groups Female Digital Nomads and Freelancing Females.
I have been reading, lurking, and sometimes contributing to several professional groups on Facebook for the past few years, including Female Digital Nomads (56k members) and Freelancing Females (33k members) have noticed some overall themes emerging which I summarize below.
I also belong to several professional and personal development groups that are moderated by men and have a large male presence. After a year of reading those posts and interactions as well as the female groups, I am even more convinced of the need for a separate female space. The culture is totally different in majority female groups. There is less mansplaining (guess what, men do it to other men too!) less posturing, and bragplaining (wherein you complain about a small aspect of something to hilight your amazing work – a cousin of the humble brag, and sibling in the “First World Problem” family) and in female groups the positive, supportive mission is enforced in a kind way.
Here are my top takeaways from reading these groups for over a year:
1. You are worth it. Don’t undervalue yourself. Don’t explain yourself.
So many conversations revolve around women asking about how to get recognition or compensation for what they have earned, and trying to assuage and manage other people’s feelings. I definitely put this at the top of the list as what has helped me the most. I often found myself in similar situations, and it was helpful to see that I am not alone in struggling with this. If someone owes you money, it is not your problem that asking for your money makes them uncomfortable.
2. We are all in this together.
We should not encourage the downward wage spiral that capitalism tends to promote, but to consciously value each person’s work and thus help support our own. Yes, we are often in competition with one another for gigs, but being supportive and sticking to a higher standard is good for everyone. Digital nomads can’t exactly form a labor union, but we can get somewhere in the realm of protecting rights by sharing information in these groups about crappy, exploitative gigs.
3. Some things do vary by geography.
Visas, taxes, average wages, and cost of living can vary drastically based upon region or country. The world is small now due to the internet, but there are some things that remain unchanged (international borders) and you should know this and plan accordingly. What one person claims is a good rate, might be an insult to another, what one person can do legally, might be illegal for another or have other tax or legal consequences. Educate yourself, be responsible for your safety and choices.
4. You are not alone.
There are still communities in the world, and some online ones can help you. I have seen many posts by women dealing with tough emotional life challenges, and feeling alone or needing mental health resources. And I have seen them get these resources via the hive mind of these groups. There are also many women meeting up in real life to support one another via the platform.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
But check the archives first. If you have a question about something, you can bet that other people do too. So first check the group’s history do a search for your question, and if it hasn’t already been asked and answered, ask away!
6. It’s not just about gender, but about being human.
Jerks come in all genders, as do crappy bosses, clients, and customers. Yes, there are ways that being a female human differs from being a male human but there are some universals, and this is the jerk-factor.
7. We are really talking about ourselves:
Exploitation isn’t only perpetrated by anonymous “bad guys” out there, but by people like you and me. If you have a crappy experience, check first whether you are actually the crappy one in this scenario. Are you being the exploitative, nasty, passive agressive person who people are writing about on these message boards? Are you the disorganized girl-boss making your freelancers tear their hair out? Are you the self-proclaimed ladyboss trying to make a name for yourself by taking advantage of women who are trying to actualize their dream of digital nomadism? Check yourself.
8. Keep an online work life balance.
Lastly, turn off the technology for a bit. Set some screentime limits and don’t be sucked into the endlessness of the interwebs. Use the internet to connect to people, places, and things in real life and then turn it off for a while. Self-care is not optional.