I've been participating in a spirited discussion on LinkedIn which is titled: "Are women reluctant to network with men?" (If you want to wade in, you must be a member of the Canadian Women in Communication group.)
Below is my posted comment regarding not getting hung up on gender as the core issue but defining how we network at all!
...that part of the larger discussion is also debating the validity of constantly looking 'up' for inspiration and sponsorship (where do the really sr. folk look? lol) We need to look outward and across as well. So it's not just men on top...it's about looking at how we define 'top'.
Women are terrific at building tables of peers and creating shared success. We're natural collaborators. So collaboration across gender, race, disability etc. should be a given in the quest for ideas/knowledge/inspiration.
Sometime we'll need a space where we get together and ask - what are the challenges unique to women (etc.)? Sometimes we need to acknowledge the world is diverse and we need everyone's input. Acknowledging which one is being offered at a particular event is how folks decide if participation is for them. There's no one answer - but you do only run one event at a time.
But first - let's get the issue of 'power' not just at the speakers' table...but also on the floor. Looking outward, across, up and - yes - 'down' because that's a true community.