Women, the OG community builders?
A nod to history.
Let me begin by saying—I love history. So today, I particularly want to talk about the history of women-centric communities and how that’s influenced how women share information. TLDR; Women are the original community builders and information-sharers, but this unique skillset we’ve accrued has largely been tossed aside as we build new technological forms of communication.
Take “old wives’ tale,” for example. That term was well-known hundreds of years ago and originates from oral storytelling by illiterate women who would often pass down their advice to the younger generation through sayings that were easy to remember. Telling stories was actually central to a woman’s role as the instructor of children and entertainer within a home. Over the years, these stories were collected by literate men and turned into written stories, like fairy tales.
I often think about why we haven’t looked at this type of clear and simple storytelling—which is really informal information sharing—when building new technology. Instead, we keep trying to reinvent the wheel with new formats of content but we have yet to scale the way we intuitively seek and share information as humans. While old wives’ tales may have a negative connotation, there are studies that show the positive impact that learning from others can have on women in terms of gaining knowledge and challenging their perceptions of stigmatized experiences. We don’t actually need to change the format we share, but we should want to change how this information is distributed and the scale at which we can share, to reach beyond our immediate friendship circles.
I often visualize this IRL sharing behavior as one large whisper network, and as a woman, you usually get an automatic, secret membership to this not-so-exclusive community. What I mean is: women-centric information sharing doesn’t have a hierarchy in the way patriarchal infrastructure does. While we recognize and deeply value high-quality, expert information, we also seek the knowledge of our peers (other women). It’s not like other women inherently have expert qualifications on advice-giving, but their lived experience is inherently valuable. In the absence of being acknowledged in “default male” institutions, we crowdsource useful nuggets (data points) from conversations amongst ourselves. And while I am more than sure that a lack of diverse tech teams is why we have not paid close attention to this type of information sharing from a product perspective, it also means there’s a huge opportunity to do things differently.
Women-centric communities weren’t created as a nice-to-have, they were created out of necessity. They have always had a higher purpose beyond socializing. Take women’s clubs, for example. Women’s clubs became big in the U.S. in the late 1800s—these clubs provided a space for American women to share their expertise with each other beyond the home and start to organize to make progress for their own rights as people. Ultimately, women became expert information-sharers and community builders because they had to be. As Rachel Fleit, Director of Introducing, Selma Blair, said in Diem yesterday of her lesson from working with Selma:
“Resilience requires a community. Having people to support us is the key ingredient to resilience.”
What We’re Reading...
Catch up on what went down in the Diem’s last week via our weekly Briefing.
Who we’re Dieming with…
To “Diem with” someone means to candidly exchange knowledge. Here’s a selection of knowledge going live (in the Diem app) this week.
Introducing, Selma Blair a conversation with director, Rachel Fleit. Live as of 3pm EST Monday, listen here.
Side Hustle Starter Guide with Rachel Johnson & Bensu Aydin. Live as of 5pm EST Monday, listen here.
Eating Disorders in BIPOC Communities with Gloria Lucas. Live as of 6.30pm EST Monday, listen here.
How to make your money work for you with Emily Austin-Williams. Going live 12.30pm EST Wednesday, listen here.
New Moon Intention Setting with June Johnson. Going live 12pm EST Thursday, listen here.
Web 3.0 – a new type of valaues system with Dayna T Friday 10am EST, listen here.
See you next time,
PS. If you’re enjoying what you’re learning in Diem, we’d love if you could give us an App Store rating.