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Barbara Camens discusses her book Girls' Night Out and the importance of women's groups at the Penn Bookstore on Wednesday. [Scott Hong/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Authors Barbara Camens and Tamara Kreinin sponsored a Girls' Night Out at the Penn Bookstore Wednesday night in honor of their new book of the same title examining the phenomenon of women's groups -- get-togethers where women empower each other -- and the importance of them in their own lives.

In fact, the two authors met at a women's group eight years ago.

"We felt we had very busy lives, but there was a void," Camens said. "We wanted to go deeper with each other... to honor our friendships."

Camens, a 1982 graduate of the Penn Law School, and Kreinin, who attended the University of Michigan, met in Washington, where Camens had been living and working as an attorney. Kreinin was invited into Camens' women's group, and before long, Camens said the concept for the book "was hatched between many glasses of wine at a New Year's Eve table."

"I think it was a burning desire in mid-life to do something more creative," she continued. "We thought that the subject matter was so important. It's a part of so many women's lives."

According to Camens and Kreinin, the types of women's groups are innumerable. But they all have one thing in common -- "These groups develop a real sense of history. It's like a family of choice," Camens said.

According to the authors, a women's group is structured. It meets regularly, and members typically adhere to a set of rules, spoken or unspoken. This becomes the glue for the group.

"It's not a picture-perfect type of story," Kreinin explained. "At different times, there's stress between different women."

"I think the group gives us the structure to stay together," Camens added.

Kreinin analyzed the need for women's groups, saying, "We are a culture that moves around constantly. We miss that sense of family and community that women's groups provide."

Stacey Meadows -- a 1982 Penn Law School graduate whose Philadelphia-based women's group, RoshChodesh, was included in Girls' Night Out -- described her dependency on her group.

"I lost my mother, and I felt like I would have crumbled if it weren't for my women's group. I actually felt the energy coming to me. I felt their presence emotionally, spiritually and physically."

Kreinin claims that Girls' Night Out has affected women across the country. "Women will come up and buy copies for their whole women's group," she said.

Camens summed up the book's goal.

"We hope this book will inspire women to write 'Group' on their calendars," she said.

Kreinin commented that after a three-year process of researching and writing, she and Camens are now "hand-selling" their book. The two are considering writing a book on women's groups in other cultures.

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