Recently when focus groups in 12 countries around the world were asked to describe Rotary and Rotarians, their responses were: *Business Men *Elite *Secretive *Old *Wealthy *Unsure if women are allowed to join.

Within each focus group in each and every region attendees commented “women are not allowed or welcome into Rotary”.

After 21 years of women in Rotary, this myth continues. Perhaps this explains the alarming statistic, that just 17% of all Rotarians are women.

Yet there are an enormous number of women in businesses large and small, government, and professions with a desire to contribute to their communities; a track record of volunteering; and strengths and networks which could be applied to Rotary club and their projects. If we do not seek them out and make a place for them in Rotary it is our loss.

So, are these women operating under the illusion that Rotary is a male-only environment?  If so, how do we change their perception? And if not, how do we attract them to Rotary?

Involving women in Rotary is a lot more than simply a matter of gender equality. The benefits to Rotary of recruiting and retaining women members include improved club performance, enhanced relevance in our communities, and the increased attraction and retention of volunteers.

Moreover, we are experiencing a stagnant or falling male Rotarian membership; by adding more women to the membership base, we are growing our numbers of potential volunteers!

The future of Rotary depends on enthusiastic membership. For Rotary is to be a dynamic force for good in our world women need to engaged.

Did you know that in the private sector, a link is increasingly being drawn between gender diversity in senior positions and performance?  Studies show companies with higher levels of gender diversity outperform their competitors. Put simply by a former Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, William Donaldson, “monolithic backgrounds are destined to foster monolithic thinking. Women add a differing and complementing perspective to that of men, allowing more innovative ideas to develop”.

To address club membership, relevance and performance we need District Governors, Presidents and members to be forward looking and to spread the word …….. women are welcome at Rotary !

We invite you to explore these ideas further within your Club.  If you need more information, contact “Women In Rotary” Suzanne Campbell at or Kerry Kornhauser at


It is true to say that in marketing products and services general recruitment schemes can be highly successful.

However, in many cases, greater success is achieved by concentrating on a specific segment or niche of the marketplace.

You may have noticed, for example, that health foods tend to be wrapped in different packaging according to its target market – one pack for women and a different one for men. The same product advertised in a sports magazine and fashion magazine with a different focus according to gender.

Recent research has revealed that many women regard Rotary as predominantly male and therefore uninviting to women; offering them little opportunity to make significant contributions or serve in senior positions within clubs or District; and creating difficulty in balancing Rotary with family life.

Additionally, there are gender differences in the motivations for volunteering. For example, a survey by the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy noted that women are more likely to volunteer to explore their own strengths, whereas men are more likely to volunteer as a means of using their skills and experience.

So when seeking to recruit women and to address their concerns focus in on utilising their strengths and overcome the myths through specific recruitment campaigns. One targeted directly at women.

Think about your club, what it can offer to women in your community and how it can be more relevant and appealing to them. When do you meet? Where? How long is your meeting? What does a meeting cost? What traditions do you have that may make your club unappealing to women e.g. shouting each other drinks, singing and fining sessions?  Do your projects provide an opportunity for women to join in?

If you are serious about increasing the number of women in Rotary, target specific additional recruitment programs by both breaking down some of the current preconceptions that may prevent them from joining Rotary, as well as appealing to the specific features of Rotary that women will find interesting

We invite you to explore these ideas further within your Club.  If you need more information, contact “Women In Rotary” Suzanne Campbell at or Kerry Kornhauser at


We all join Rotary for so many different reasons….to assist our community, to assist those at need, to give to those less needy, for friendship and networking.

Some of us like to be part of the decision process; some of us like to follow this process and work on the team; and some of us like to make the decisions. Nevertheless we all look to see who is responsible for making these changes and decisions….

When women are involved in the operation of clubs and projects they will encourage more women to join Rotary. So once recruited to Rotary women need to be supported and encouraged to participate in the decision making process. This will provide them with confidence; ensure decisions made are not only sensitive to women’s issues but has underlying understanding to their needs; and provide others with strong role models.

For Rotary to continue and to grow it needs women to become involved in larger numbers – the challenge is how does Rotary attract and retain women.

Research shows that just as men introduce male members so to women attract women friends and work colleagues. Women need to be seen in their Clubs as being active, involved and part of the team that creates the goals of their clubs. Why? So, when other women visit they can see that women are accepted, appreciated and welcomed at all levels; and that Rotary has a deep and intimate knowledge of the needs and goals of women volunteers.

Women are uniquely positioned to attract women to their clubs, and to create an environment which encourages them to stay.

Of the Rotary programs, RYLA, Youth Exchange, GSE, Ambassadorial Scholars and Peace Scholars, the majority of participants are women. Presently, the percentage of these participants who go on to have further involvement in Rotary is low.  This represents a significant missed opportunity to engage these active young people, and their families, encourage them to join Rotary.

By providing role models and leadership roles for these young women we may be able to secure higher levels of participation.  The presence of women on the Board will send a strong message to both current and future women volunteers that women are valued by Rotary, and there is potential for advancement.

We invite you to explore these ideas further within your Club.  If you need more information, contact “Women In Rotary” Suzanne Campbell at or Kerry Kornhauser at

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