Women Networking: Still relevant in 21st Century? Mixed reaction from women business leaders in Mesa County

Women’s organizations are still prevalent across the country and in the Grand Valley. Yet, in light of the strides women have made in the workplace over the past 50 years, are such organizations relevant or even necessary in 2010?

“I have never found women networking groups to meet my personal needs,” said Diane Schwenke, executive director of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, adding that she speaks only about her personal preference.

Schwenke, like many women leaders, usually meets with groups featuring both women and men. She said such cooperation might be a reflection of a rural atmosphere in which men and women have grown accustomed to working side-by-side on farms and ranches through the generations.

She won’t be surprised if women’s organizations decline in popularity as the years go by.

“If I were to make a prediction, I’m not sure that we need strictly women networking groups,” she said.

She’s not alone with that kind of viewpoint.

“I can see over time that a specific gender group—that need might diminish,” said Carol Skubic, market president for Vectra Bank in Grand Junction.

But for now, women’s organizations have their place, said Skubic.

“I think they’re still valid for organizations that support especially young women,” she said.

Sally Schaefer, who often steers the direction of organizations that feature both women and men, said there will probably always be a place for women’s organizations, but tends to endorse efforts to pull various people together.

“Women’s networking groups are OK, but shouldn’t be exclusive (to women),” said Schaefer, former CEO of Hilltop Community Resources and current board member for the Colorado Health Foundation.

Others are more strongly supportive of the concept of women’s groups.