“The only way to climb the top of a ladder is to climb step by step, one at a time. And in the process of this ascent, you will suddenly discover in yourself all the necessary qualities, skills and abilities necessary to achieve success, which you, it would seem, never possessed ”Margaret Thatcher
At a time when whole lists of the richest women entrepreneurs are published, a special application for a businesswoman is being created, and social networks are overflowing with advertisements of working mothers on maternity leave, statistics show disappointing numbers – according to the UN Development Program, women hold less than 10 % of economic resources. Women account for 38% of the total number of entrepreneurs. Why is there such a small proportion of women in business? What difficulties do business women face and how to overcome them? Is gender balance possible in business? Let’s talk about this further.
Woman in business: challenges and difficulties
The necessary conditions for entrepreneurial activity are:
- free choice of life path;
- combination of professional career with family responsibilities for both sexes;
- development of a civilized model of behavior in the field of entrepreneurial activity by a modern person;
- defining gender equality as the central issue of social policy;
- observance of the rule of law in all spheres of the life of society;
- creating conditions for the all-round development of a woman entrepreneur as a person.
Against which of these points can we put a plus sign when talking about women in business? Are there two, three, four? And all six are needed! Obviously, this situation exists precisely because of gender inequality and remnants of patriarchy in our society.
As a consequence, women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges and difficulties in achieving their goals. So, a businesswoman has to solve many additional tasks, such as building and maintaining reputation and influence, combating prejudice, argumentation, persuasion, and the like. All this requires additional time and emotional costs; in some cases, the deadlines for completing the main tasks may increase and the focus on them blurred.
The most popular stereotypes about women in business
Most of the problems women have to overcome in business are related precisely to gender stereotypes. Let’s take a look at the most popular ones.
“She doesn’t belong here, home and family are her main business”
A traditional stereotype for most professions. Of course, business is not an easy task, it takes a lot of time and energy and not every person (both a woman and a man) can do it. However, there are examples of women who successfully combine their business with raising children, while some prefer a career. And this is a completely normal situation for the civilized XXI century, where a woman herself can choose what her purpose is.
“She was helped by her boyfriend / husband / father / brother”
This stereotype has arisen for a reason. Indeed, many lists of millionaire businesswoman are headed by women who have inherited their wealth or from their parents. And in the meantime, there is an even larger list of those business women who themselves reached heights and whom no one helped.
“A purely” female “business is suitable for her, she will not be competent in other areas”
A beauty salon, the sale of cosmetics and household chemicals, ateliers, the flower industry, hand-made projects – all this, to a greater extent, is associated with the female sphere of employment. It is enough just to enter into Google the query “business for a woman” and you will be shown hundreds of similar “female” offers. Indeed, men in this area can be seen much less often than women. But this does not limit a woman’s ability to choose a field of activity and does not mean that a woman cannot achieve success in such areas as, for example, IT, engineering, metallurgy, etc. And hundreds of successful women in these areas are proof.
Just a few days ago it became known that the CFA Institute, a world association of investment professionals, will be headed by a womanMargaret Franklin
“Female” model of management is ineffective”
Often the types of management are divided according to gender – typical “male” and typical “female”. In this regard, the “female” model is criticized as overly emotional, one in which it is difficult to build relationships with people and achieve goals. This thesis is refuted by recent studies, showing the effectiveness of a woman’s management of the company and, moreover, a greater efficiency than a man.
Since 2016, the Peterson Institute for World Economy has analyzed 21,980 companies in 91 countries. It was found that companies in which 30% or more of managers are women, have a net profitability of 15% higher than the profitability of companies where there are no women in top management.
In general, from our point of view, in modern times it would be advisable not to divide management models by gender. After all, women and men, despite differences in sex, can have the same set of qualities necessary for doing business.
Gender balance matters in business
Gender balance in business, as in any company, is important not only from the point of view of gender equality and the elimination of stereotypes, which we talked about above, but also for the economy as a whole. So, in the period 2004-2008. there was a significant improvement in the financial performance of Fortune Global 500 companies with at least three women. The Credit Suisse Research Institute in 2012 confirmed this pattern by analyzing the activities of 2,360 enterprises (Credit Suisse Research Institute. Gender Diversity and Corporate Leadership).
In addition, gender balance enables policymakers to better understand market needs and enables better decision-making. However, in our country, human resource management as a whole is in its infancy. And investing in women to support their leadership is still considered risky and more altruistic than economically profitable. Although the UN data confirms: the growth of employment and education of women directly affects the growth of the economy.
What is needed for gender balance and the growth of women in business? Motivate, invest in the development of small and medium-sized businesses, invest in education and training based on gender equality and equal opportunities for both women and men. The main task is to get rid of any gender stereotypes from people’s heads.
Colossal Opportunities for Modern Women
It is also worth noting that the situation is not that bad. The percentage of women who are in leadership positions, start their own businesses and become successful is increasing every year. Young mothers can now work while on maternity leave, women can defend their rights prescribed in laws, leaders can improve their knowledge and skills in various courses, trainings and seminars. And the more women there are in business, the more successfully they will be able to stimulate these areas.
Colossal opportunities are opening up for modern women. They are connected both with the existence of the Internet and with the understanding of the obsolescence of a society based on gender inequality.
Where to get inspiration for your own business? There are hundreds of thousands of businesswoman who have managed to build a career and have their own successful business. And here are one hundredth of the names of these famous women: Gina Reinhart (world’s first female billionaire, industry).
Among our activists there are also successful women businesswomen. After all, they have long thrown gender stereotypes from their lives and the thesis that men will a priori get a more advantageous place. To develop their business, they improve, develop and move towards their goal. For example, our activist from Nikolaev Evgenia Bardina has been successfully engaged in training activities and works for herself for more than three years, and our program director Vlada Nedak has been an entrepreneur in the field of IT, recruiting and education for more than 10 years. Members of our Board of Directors in the United States are an example. For example, Jennifer Daniels is the founder of the JenW collection, a jewelry and accessories design company; Barbara Glickstein, who founded Barbara Glickstein Strategies in 2019, providing innovative approaches to media education, leadership and advocacy; Sheila Lambert, who has over 20 years of senior management experience, is the founder and CEO of the Bottomless Closet; Sharon Ufberg, who co-founded Elevate Gen Y, which she founded with her daughter, and many other successful women entrepreneurs who are directly involved with Project Kesher.