I have been asked a few times whether I have joined a women in science network. I have never done so. The first time I came across such a network was at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) where I did my PhD research. At the time, this NIOZ women-in-science network consisted of only a handful of women. During my post doc period at Silwood Park, Imperial College London, there was no such network, perhaps because only 6 out of 34 faculty members were female. The latter sometimes led to interesting situations, like the one where I went for the after-seminar-dinner-with-the-speaker with fourteen men and myself.
At the Faculty of Science (FNWI) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), where I am now, there is a vibrant Women in the FNWI (WiF) network. Should I join? What is stopping me? I have probably never joined the WiF because I have not taken the initiative to find out more about what this network has to offer. Mainly, however, because I deal with both men and women (mostly men though) in my daily work life, I find that this is the environment that you have to (learn how to) thrive in. And this involves knowing how to deal with dominant men and equally aggressive women (see here for example). Because my work environment is (fairly) diverse, I have never felt like joining a women-in-science network.
Regardless, however, the WiF undertakes initiatives to promote women in science and increase their academic recognition, such as the WiF Best Publication Award. This is of course of immense importance, and I certainly am one that cannot complain about similar such initiatives within the FNWI as I am on a MacGillavry Fellowship (which is an FNWI initiative to increase the number of female faculty).
So, where does all of this lead? My feeling is that everyone should aim to work in, and thrive in, a diverse environment, and enjoy and reap the benefits of diversity. Any initiatives to promote this will contribute towards having no prejudices, no implicit biases, and many opportunities for everyone. Perhaps I should join the WiF.