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Women Only Programs – Yes or No?

The debate about single-gender learning environments is an interesting one with many questions circling around it. Are women more likely to speak up when it’s just them?  Will they be more themselves? Learn better? Do better once the training is completed?

…Or…

Are such environments bubbles sheltering women from the real dual-gender world?  Do they overlook male insights and perspectives?  Are they too insular and mono-focused?

Our programs at WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. ARE for women only. No surprise there.  But we’re for women only in a very special way, which has worked for almost 20 years. To borrow a word from the culinary world, ours is a “fusion” approach.

Here’s how it works.

In the workshop education portions of our programs, attendees are women only. Experience has shown us that women feel safer in this milieu. They more freely open up about their feelings, their strengths and their shortcomings. Consequently, learning and required behavioral shifts happen easier and faster. Additionally, participants are surrounded by their peers – women who share the same aspirations and obstacles to achieving success at the highest levels of their corporations. This commonality allows for honest feedback, new perspectives, and ties that extend beyond the classroom and beyond the length of the program.

However, while participation is limited to women, perspectives are global.  From the very earliest stages of the programs, women are required to deal with the reality of the workplace, which in most cases, at the levels they are seeking, is male dominated. They role play. They assess. They practice what they learned in their own corporations. Everything we do is helping our women participants hone the strategies for success required in the real corporate world.

Additionally, our mentors and panelists are both male and female, ensuring a balanced perspective.  Also, throughout our programs, we work closely with our participants’ management team, both men and women. The feedback we and our participants receive helps us all customize the tools and techniques needed for success in their individual organizations.

So, YES we at WOMEN Unlimited are staunch advocates of single-gender classroom experiences. However, ours is anything but a “feel good” environment, where women share their complaints and continue with the same patterns that have stood in their way. We bring women together so they can take an honest look at who they are, what they want and how they can get it. We help them grapple with how to change, where to change and why to change. As a result, our women graduates are more equipped to function at the top levels of corporate America, which is anything but women only.

Rosina Racioppi                                                                                 President & CEO                                                                               WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.

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