A woman faces many barriers when they plan to start their own business and strive for its growth.
For ages, it has been seen that women are in a less favorable position to handle a business because of factors like limited mobility, lack of courage to speak up, cultural and stereotypical practices, inheritance and matrimonial laws, lack of support knowledge.
However, gender inequality is often seen as a significant challenge that impacts women-business growth. It has been a significant problem that is prevailing for generations after generations.
Society fails to understand the importance of women in the present. Women entrepreneurs make a more substantial contribution to small businesses and start-ups. They work on enterprise development as well as manage a family and household activities. To meet the needs of the women entrepreneurs and ensure a proper well-being environment for them, a lot of measures have been taken by the ILO that will protect the rights of the women entrepreneurs. The political, socio-cultural, and financial factors will constantly challenge the women’s ability, but the efforts and the struggles should be manifested.
Factors that led to Gender Inequality
- Lack of active participation of women in entrepreneurial activities.
- Gender-biased mentality of the society.
- Absence of women empowerment and establishment of an enabling environment.
Read further to know what the different women entrepreneurs have to say about their journeys and how they cope with the problem of gender inequality.
Overcoming Insecurities that take birth from gender inquality
Gender inequality is a breeding ground for insecurities that include a lack of self-trust and motivational aspects. However, these insecurities can be overcome in some simple ways. Let us see what Katherine Brown, the founder and marketing director of Spyic, has to say in this regard.
“Our company specializes in parental control and remote monitoring programs. Here’s how I face my major challenge and overcome it.
To overcome doubts, I have done the following things:
- I stopped comparing myself with others and started believing that the journey to success is different for everyone. This helps me set meaningful goals, becoming more productive and more optimistic. I focused on my own way, without thinking about what others had done and achieved.
- I cling to those relatives and friends who believe in me. They constantly reminded me of my abilities and qualifications whenever I had doubts about myself.
- Whenever a bad thought persisted, I would change my way of thinking by creating new focus and new opportunities. I focus on positive thoughts and actions; it helps me to cope with my daily challenges and to lead a meaningful life.”
Further, there are other problems too that cater to decrease the morality and the dignity of women entrepreneurs.
Dodging feeling of inferiority to maintain peace of mind
Women entrepreneurs have to face negativities to follow their path. These problems often hamper the peace of mind. Then there are exceptions too. Some people show the ray of light and cheer you up, saying, “The sky is not the limit anymore.”
Natalise Kalea Robinson, the CEO of Parallel Health, shares her experience and how she managed to survive in the air of despondency.
“As a female entrepreneur, there are two glaring challenges that we have faced — and may continue to face even in subtle, non-direct ways:
- being underestimated,
- being objectified.
I cringe a little bit as I write the latter because we’ve all heard so much in the last few years about “me too,” but honestly, it is still awkward to talk about. But it needs to be named because it’s the truth.
It’s important to note that being underestimated is not just a “female entrepreneur” problem, obviously. Many of us, women and men, especially if you’re a minority of any group, likely know what it feels like to be the underdog sometimes. But being a woman makes it doubly familiar, especially if you work in an industry that is dominated by men. The challenge is that you get passed up for opportunities; people assume you just aren’t as capable because you don’t “look the part.” Luckily, I do believe the world is shifting quickly where people are more mindful and try to second guess their initial assumptions. The upside to being underestimated is that you can learn to feel empowered in the underdog position. After all, it merely means people don’t expect you to win… so you can come from behind, working harder, faster, smarter. It gives you an edge.”
Motivation is what we all need. One positive response is enough to make our day. Learning to feel empowered and gathering courage on our own calls for power and strength, and we all have that within us. Nothing is impossible. Natalise further continues to say:
“Now, being objectified can be a devastating challenge. But again, you can either let it ruin you or empower you. When I was first starting out in my career, it was hard for me to feel empowered in these situations; after all, being objectified when you’re inexperienced and new feels like someone usurping the little amount of power you have. But over time, with more experience and confidence, I learned to stand up for myself in a way that was serious yet (mostly) disarming. I learned to play above the game. It’s unfortunate that women have to even think about maneuvering differently in the world, but it is what it is, and I think ultimately, it makes us stronger and more resilient.”
Suppressing the potentiality of women entrepreneurs
Many women entrepreneurs out there think they are not capable of what men do because they are described as ‘caregivers’ and are not allowed to step outside to mold their personalities with their skills.
“My major challenge was the constant eye rolls and the overall lack of confidence in my business from men I met in the business world. It always felt like men would talk down to me as if all this could ever be a side hustle for personal amusement. There was only one way I could overcome this. I just kept working until I silenced the doubters. Now with multiple pending major retail deals and multiple best-selling products on Amazon, I can smile when someone makes a backhanded comment about “running a business out of my kitchen” and tell them to check the Amazon best sellers list. I don’t know that I’ll ever completely shake the stigma, but it certainly is fun to watch men’s jaws drop when they realize the magnitude of what I’ve built.” – as quoted by Geri Terry, CEO of ketoniafoods.
You might feel you are alone but never give up, have faith in yourself. Work towards a bigger and better goal.
Socio-cultural basis that hinders the growth
Society is biased against women and does not promote the idea of women setting up an enterprise and running it full-fledged. Women are criticized for their success, but men, on the other hand, are considered heroes. Here’s what we have for all the women entrepreneurs out there who think they are weaker than the men.
“One major challenge I encountered as a woman who is an entrepreneur is battling societal expectations and perceptions of business ownership. Many successful traits of entrepreneurship are associated with personality traits celebrated in men and criticized in women. Such traits are: being a cutthroat, aggressive approach to closing sales, and harsh. While these traits work for men, women who portray these traits are considered unapproachable, unfriendly, and stand-offish. None of those are good for business! To combat that, I spend time teaching about this so my prospective clients know the market and pressures we face as women entrepreneurs, which has led to conversions and higher engagement. I also show up as my true self, which is collaborative, motivated, and engaging. I find that my personality is a key in closing a sale, and sharing my perspective as a woman entrepreneur draws people in.” -as said by Rachel Wahba, Certified Holistic Life Coach
Gender inequality in the workplace is a serious matter that must be looked into. Everybody should be considered equal. We should take a moment to appreciate the women who are carving their careers and working as housemakers at the same time. Above all, violence and harassment should be restrained and never be an option.
Women continue to occupy lesser jobs, hampering the progress they deserve. We all must play our role in ceasing the widespread gender inequality index and making it a better place for both men and women. All three dimensions that measure the gender inequality index should have a proper balance.