Courtesy of The Women's Network

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate societal inequities in access to technology and education, the newly established Women’s Network at Yale seeks to utilize a virtual format to tear down workplace barriers for women.

In September 2020, a team of undergraduate students led by Canning Malkin ’21 founded the Women’s Network Yale Chapter, after receiving an invitation from the network’s national organization to start the chapter. The network is known for its emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Despite the virtual format of current meetings, the Women’s Network has still found ways to make members feel connected with the group.

“Despite the fact that there were 100-200 people on the Zoom calls every time, there was always this sense of inclusion and an incredibly personal feeling about the network,” National Account Management Intern Ivana Ramirez ’25 told the News.

The national organization was founded by Syracuse University alum Jamie Vinck during the fall of 2017. Vinck was inspired to start the organization after realizing the barriers women face in succeeding in male-dominated fields.

The organization is guided by four primary goals: giving women the opportunity to engage in various fields, building and fostering a community of empowered women, educating members about existing workplace barriers and helping women gain professional exposure.

In an email to the News, the network’s Vice President Alexia Godron ’21 said that the team believed that Yale was a “perfect place” to establish a chapter.

“We have so many strong, ambitious women who both inspire the work of organizations such as ours, and grow from the resources that we can provide,” Godron said.

Godron envisions that Yale’s chapter will be different from other campus networking organizations because of its emphasis on a social as well as a professional community.

According to Ramirez, the network’s emphasis on providing equal opportunities for women regardless of their socioeconomic status distinguishes it from other networking organizations.

Ramirez told the News that the group’s application process is founded on this principle of inclusivity. Unlike other networking organizations, students do not need to enter a competitive application process or pay any fees to join the network. Every student who fills out the form will be accepted as a member of the network. This application process guarantees that women at schools with a chapter of the Women’s Network have access to a network regardless of “legacy status, economic background or race.”

The chapter’s Vice President of Finance Lauren Potter ’22 said that her roots emboldened her to embody the principles of inclusivity and diversity advocated by the network.

“My Hispanic heritage is also something that I am very proud of, and I would like to serve as an example of a successful Hispanic businesswoman within the Women’s Network, at Yale and in the greater business community,” Potter said.

The Women’s Network promotes its core principles by holding a variety of collaborative networking events, hosting skill-building workshops and offering useful resources for women to excel. These events are only open to members of the group.

Members of the network operate on a monthly schedule. They are encouraged to attend the network’s national events during the first week of the month as well as attend chapter events that happen at least once a month.

According to Ramirez, recent national events included a speaker event from Emmy award-winning network television producer Wendy Sachs and a book club by the “Brag Better” author Meredith Fineman.

Godron said that Yale-specific activities are in the pipeline. Some of these events will be virtual, like movie nights and a resume workshop. Others, including a LinkedIn photoshoot and sunset yoga, will take place in person.

According to chapter Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Michaellah Mapotaringa ’21, the chapter also hopes to co-sponsor mixers and panel discussions with other colleges that have a network chapter. Discussions will involve important topics such as tackling discrimination in the workplace.

“You always leave the meetings feeling confident, empowered, and inspired by the people around you as opposed to bogged down by other people’s success,” Ramirez said. “I think that’s a lesson a lot of women can learn from and is doing a lot to increase my maturity as a person.”

Prospective members can apply to the Women’s Network by completing this form.

Razel Suansing | razel.suansing@yale.edu