For The Women Retreat

5 day intimate retreat for women leaders in tech

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For The Women Retreat is an intimate gathering in the Bahamas. Diverse women come together for outdoor exploration, creative endeavors and quiet reflections.

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Anna Filou@anna_0x · Tech Geek, Web Designer
This is the kind of thing that really bugs me. "Intimate retreat for women leaders in tech." Imagine if it said "intimate retreat for MALE leaders in tech." The internet would lose its shit because it sounds ridiculous. Everybody would ask "why only for MEN?" but if something is female-exclusive, there are rarely people who ask "why only for WOMEN?" Personally, both seem ridiculous to me and I just hate the fact that we as a society create boundaries where there are none. Also, once you label something female-only you have to make some choices like who is considered a woman? Does it come down to genitalia, physical appearance, self expression?
Abadesi
AbadesiHunter@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
@anna_0x Thanks for sharing your views. As a woman living in patriarchy I experience the world very differently to men. Over the last 8 years I've worked in tech compared to my guy friends also in the industry I've been paid less than my peers for working in the same role, I've been harassed, I've been bullied. I crave safe spaces where I can share my experiences with other women who get me. It gives me the power to harness the experiences into something positive. Plus I like making new connections as a community builder and generally curious person. This is why there is value in this for me. Perhaps when intersectional feminism succeeds in dismantling patriarchy every space will be a safe space and retreats like this will be a thing of the past but that's just a science fiction reality for now until lasting change impacts the world.
Kuan Luo
Kuan LuoMaker@kuanluo · Designer, traveler. @ftwretreat, etc
@anna_0x I've actually been thinking about adding non-binary to the title as well, so thanks for the comment to make me prioritize the task appropriately, Anna. I certainly wish one day gender boundaries do no matter in the society, yet at the moment, while some of us (me included) may have never strongly identified with gender as something crucial to our self-image, many women I've spoken to do, and as a result, and I paraphrase from a woman who came to the last retreat, we need a space where not everyone is invited to make personal progress. And seeing the benefits the women gained from the last retreat is convincing enough for me that while the having women-only experiences may seem like building walls when we should be tearing them down, it's a necessary greenhouse for some of us facing harsher environments. After all, it would be great to have more options on the table, should you be looking for women-only gatherings, no?
Anna Filou@anna_0x · Tech Geek, Web Designer
@abadesi I understand but I think that by creating “safe places” we just add to the problem, we choose segregation instead of just being people and hanging out with other people without taking gender/sex into account (and isn’t that the goal?) I think that the best way to reach a goal is to think and act the way you would if you’d already reached it. For example, want to be a fit person? Act like a fit person (i.e. eat healthier, work out), don’t create “safe places” for unfit people where you can talk about being unfit. Obviously unrelated example but I think it illustrates my point well.
Anna Filou@anna_0x · Tech Geek, Web Designer
@kuanluo I am happy that these sort of retreats help people and who am I to complain if this isn’t for me anyway? Still, I do think that it is as you describe: we are creating walls instead of tearing them down. I am biologically female (at least I assume I’ve got XX chromosomes) but that is as much a part of my identity as having brown eyes; completely irrelevant. It seems to me that many people grow up socializing only or mostly with kids of the same assigned gender and so they perceive the people outside of their group as fundamentally different and it is for that reason that they seek “female-only” or “male-only” experiences. They believe that the “other” gender thinks differently and could not possibly get them; they feel they can’t be fully themselves in the company of the “others”. As people who don’t have these stereotypes in their heads can attest, that’s absolutely not the case and it personally pains me a lot to see all around me.
Abadesi
AbadesiHunter@abadesi · 👩🏽‍💻 Product Hunt | Hustle Crew | NTT
I've noticed a rise in community driven offline experiences for techies from Afrotech to Girlboss rally and now FTW retreat by @kuanluo. It signals to me just how much individuals value the opportunity to be surrounded by like minded people. It's energizing, refreshing and provides the opportunity to expand your network with the most relevant type of people. I love that this mixes all the above with a proper vacation by the Caribbean sea. So tempted to go! 🏝 @kuanluo how do you curate the experience and ensure there's harmony in the group?
Kuan Luo
Kuan LuoMaker@kuanluo · Designer, traveler. @ftwretreat, etc
@abadesi Thank you for sharing this and for the excellent question! Given I've only done one retreat so far, the data is not a pattern yet. But I'd say the following has worked well to create a harmonious experience for FTW Retreat: - Small size. We are able to share meals around one table, and have one conversation at a time. The practice of eating together, listening deeply, and holding space for each other is so important in creating a safe place. When we feel safe, we tend to be more harmonious. - Diversity in backgrounds. The women leaders come from different industries, roles and backgrounds, and thus are less likely to be direct competitors with each other. No one is trying to get someone else's job. 😉 This allows more room for curiosity. - A bit of self-selection? The retreat is so new and experimental - those who say yes and jump in tend to be easy-going at the first place. That's what I've gathered so far, and I will be able to better answer this question after a few more retreats!