Finding sisterhood through social mediaby Carli Brosseau on Mar. 08, 2012, under social media
Ana Lewis always wanted a sister. As an adult, she found herself gravitating toward women’s groups for support in her personal and professional lives.
A web designer who works from home, she especially sought an online community of women, and she found something like that in the now-defunct online bulletin board Pleiades, which was targeted at women in technology and business owners who work from home.
In 1999, she designed what she was looking for and soon got 60 or so emails from women who wanted to be included. The problem was that they had to be manually entered into the group.
“The technology for what I wanted to do just didn’t exist yet,” Lewis said. She shut the online community down, unable to juggle managing the site on top of her other responsibilities.
A decade passed, and Lewis realized the time was right. The technology now existed to create the online conversations she craved, and the need for women to have a supportive and entirely un-catty forum in which to explore self-improvement was just as acute.
In 2009, Women on the Verge was resurrected, this time starting as a Twitter account. The website now gets more than 1 million hits a month from all over the world, and more than 200 women contribute blog posts, video blog posts and participate in a radio show. Women on the Verge is active on just about every social network out there, and @womenontheverge on Twitter now has more than 10,000 followers who exchange views on the monthly topics Lewis offers as talking points.
“We really do want to support each other,” Lewis said. “We’re really trying to break the stereotype” of women as catty and competitive. A Hispanic women in the field of technology, Lewis knows something about breaking stereotypes, and she’s passionate about helping other women do the same.
The success of the site “showcases how true this concept is and how ready we are for it,” she said. Many of the community members are authors or women in the field of technology, including Tucsonan Jessica Northey, who with more than 313,000 followers frequently makes it onto lists of Twitter powerhouses.
Participation in Women on the Verge is free, and the site is ad-free. In celebration of International Women’s Day today, the community is talking about sisterhood and how to build a supportive community. International Women’s Day, as well as Felicidades Mujeres, is trending on Twitter. That seems clear evidence that the community is growing.