A Defense of Rachel Hollis: Why More Women Should Support More Women

This may be controversial, but I really like Rachel Hollis. In case you have been living under a rock, she is a best-selling girl-power motivational speaker and author who calls herself a “coach” and not a therapist or a cheerleader. She is plain-spoken and tells it like she sees it. She offers certain guiding rules to live by and encourages women to live their best lives.

But I guess with any amount of fame there comes some infamy. And there are lots and lots…and lots of Rachel-Haters. I heard Ms. Hollis reference some of the hate she gets on social media and went to check it out for myself online. It is surprisingly aggressive. There are Christian women bloggers saying she is not giving biblical guidance (to put it nicely), women who don’t like her views on fitness and diet, and women who don’t like her clothes, and women who don’t like that she is a fulltime working/traveling mom.

Personally, I like that Ms. Hollis is peppy and energetic and believes that we are all created for a purpose here on this earth that it is up to us to discover it and live it out. I think there is a lot of truth there (including in the bible). Of course, I don’t expect her to be a researcher, a therapist, a scientist or a pastor because she is none of those things. She offers her opinions in her writings. (In fact, most of them are not data-driven at all.) So, you know what you are getting when you read her work: her point of view on how to live life full-throttle.

There is something, however, I think we could learn from all the bloggers and social media activists slamming Hollis’ coaching and writing. Is there a price we pay when women go after another woman whose mission is motivating women?

What if more women did more to support other women, in the public arena and in our personal and professional lives? Maybe there is a way we could all take a page (even if it’s just one!) from Rachel Hollis and do more to try to encourage and promote the women in our lives. On the career front in particular, there is a lot of new research suggesting women go further professionally when they have the support of a close circle of other women. Check this out:

  • The Washington Post reported on a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which “found that the most successful female job-seekers from a top-ranked graduate school relied not only on a wide network of contacts, but also on a close inner circle of other women who provide support and gender-specific job advice.”

  • The Post added, “But among women, the [study] authors were surprised by the findings: 77 percent of the highest-achieving women had strong ties with an inner circle of two to three other women. The lowest-achieving women had a male-dominated network and weaker ties with other women in their network.”

  • The Post story also quotes Debroah Kolb, a professor emerita for women and leadership at the Simmons College School of Management as saying, “It’s important that women recognize the power of the relationships they have traditionally relied on for social support….Women’s networks you haven't necessarily thought of as strategic are strategic.”

  • A Forbes article titled “The Power of the Pack: Women Who Support Other Women are More Successful” says, “We need to reverse the stereotype that women don’t support other women. There is research that shows women in particular benefit from collaboration over competition.”

  • The Forbes article concludes with, “advice from women leaders on how to find and cultivate a close network of female professionals: Take the word ‘work’ out of networking. There is power in relationships that extends beyond a generic introduction. When you create connections based on shared interests and goals, you’ll be more successful at your job, because people want to work with people they know and like.”

What if we were all just a little more like Rachel Hollis? What if we tried to focus on ways to applaud the other women in our lives, whether it is at work or at the PTA? I believe we would all be stronger and more successful for it. After all, there are entire volumes of work out there on how females in general struggle more than men with their self-esteem. Maybe if every woman found just a few more ways to support the women around them we would all smile a little more, succeed further and fly a little higher.

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