Women Entrepreneurs: Breaking Into the ‘Men’s Club’

By ,

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's PeopleImages

The cut throat world of competitive business is no place for a woman, many say, but what they don’t know is that it may be one of the best kept secrets of the world, and it is about to be uncovered.

It is a fact that women are better than men at anything they put their hand to, whatever task is presented to them, they learn, they strive, they adapt, they cope, and they have a huge capacity to grow both professionally as well as personally. So when you hear the stereotypes attributed to women as being ‘emotional, impractical, unprofessional, or risk averse’, it brings to light the bias and the prejudice that women face daily on the basis of their gender. Ever wondered why a woman has to think twice before acting on an impulse? Why is it so difficult to digest that a woman is the boss of so and so company and it is still flourishing?

We don’t need to create a survey to prove that women can multitask better than men. Haven’t they been doing that since the beginning of time? Keeping an entire household together, looking after the children and their needs, the husband and his needs, the chores around the house, the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and the dusting and whatever emergencies or crisis that may happen, creating perfect balance and harmony inside a family is what a woman can do with no difficulty. And women who have made their careers alongside their family are also increasing in numbers every day. It’s only that men find it difficult to adjust with the fact that women can excel at any job they set their minds to, and hence we are forced to prove these points through such “discussions”.

Overcoming Obstacles:

The percentages that reflect that women entrepreneurs are fewer than men reflect that women need to step into that area as well. There can be many reasons as to why women are not so ready to take huge risks or act on their impulses, but their inability is not one of them.

They are surely as capable as can be to take up on a new challenge, but there are always strings attached when it’s a woman who comes up with the idea of a business startup. They are more laden with responsibilities than an average man, and they are faced with more resistance when they go around getting a loan or convincing a venture capitalist to invest. When it takes them twice the amount of time required to take the first few tottering steps, the rest are not so eager to follow. Everybody does not have the same circumstances, the same level of support from family and friends, and every individual does not come from the same background, and so it is unfair to judge how one could succeed while the other couldn’t.

Women Worldwide

The issues that arise, from financial to public to personal, are not handled the same way by every woman. Some succumb to the pressure, others may falter, and yet there are the tough ones who stand resolute and emerge victorious. But a woman has many hurdles to cross when she sets out to start her own business. First she waits for her family life to settle, such as waiting for the children to grow up or the husband to be willing enough to share the responsibilities equally, then to have the startup funding, then to be able to give her all to her career, which most women aren’t willing to. Because they will always, always, consider their careers to be secondary, their families to be the priority, and will never take a risk that could sabotage their home.

The Stereotypes…

Far too often have we all heard that women who trust their hearts are often impatient and emotional, succumb to pressure, and do not adjust immediately because there are some issues about somebody’s behavior or some such other stories. Women have been cast in the roles of either the ‘damsel in distress’ or the ‘distressing damsel’. And in both these roles, it is the woman who bears the brunt, for if she requires to be looked after, that is a responsibility, and if she doesn’t require looking after, that ruffles some feathers, if you know what I mean.

In any case, it is really hard for our society in general, to accept a woman outside of what it perceives to be the proper role. There is a very fixed mindset about what a man’s duties are and what a woman’s duties are, and if either of them deviates from the pre-conceived notions, the general public does not let them do it easily. The defining characteristics of each gender will not change, but it doesn’t mean that they cannot do more things than what they are doing. Women are type casted as the softies, with more heart than head. But maybe that’s not a bad thing as it seems, maybe that is where their real strength lies.

Do you know how some wonder women are doing it in real life (and, by ‘it’ I mean flourishing as entrepreneurs while managing a house hold)? Here are some inspirational quotes from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Marissa Mayer:

No doubt a woman is emotional, sentimental and prefers to play it safe, but she is also tough and has nerves of steel when the need arises. There is no challenge that a woman cannot overcome. Looking at both sides of a picture, you will find that a woman can endure extreme duress and not break, when it is really important she won’t give in before she has tested all the other options. Men who have pitted themselves against women in the ruthless world of business will agree that it is not so easy to gainsay a woman in any negotiation. So the stereotypes that hinder the progress are only created for that one purpose: to hinder the progress.

When The Truth Is…

Women have been taking more and more initiative now to enter the world of business. You will find that majority of women are now interested in a career either alongside, or before a family. They have started to own up to their abilities, and they are every bit as smart and talented and interested in becoming a CFO or CEO, if not an owner as any other man. If they cannot cope up with any kind of work hours or other such responsibility, that may be because they are not willing to compromise what they already have, because they value their family more, and not because they are inept or unable to go the distance. Many statistics show that the percentage of women entrepreneurs have increased, even more so than men.

Toby Marshall’s

“here is some research from AWCCI published in 2011:
In the past 10 years the number of women ‘own account workers’ has gone up by
24.6% whilst for men it was only up 1%. The number of males running a business
has dropped by 3.7% over the past five years, while the number of women running a business has grown by 8.9%

So that would indicate more startups??

Clearly all these stats are as confusing as mud!

The fact that women have to windup their business ventures or use their families as their initial crew indicates how difficult it is for a woman to actually carry out her plan. Financing is a big issue, to find the right partners, to get loans, to make it all work, and then to be able to afford the time that is required to get a business running, are all the factors that create problems for a woman to stick it out till the end.

Clare Doolan

“Personally I think women are less likely to take the risks associated with being an entrepreneur than men. Being an entrepreneur means leaving all financial security behind and I don’t think this is something that a lot of women are willing to do.

It’s a shame because women can add a lot of value for their clients. They tend to be more empathetic in general which lends it’self well to customer service and tailoring their service to the client.

More often than not, the social pressure is enough to make anybody quit, and then to keep up the finances without running into bankruptcy is not an easy task.

Joan Ngugi

“Family responsibilities that leave women with no time to put into entrepreneurship could be another obstacle as they are very busy taking care of everyone else so starting a business becomes a far fetched dream. I know very talented women that have hobbies that they dream to turn into business and the valid excuse is “I have no time right now maybe if my kids are a little bit older.” so they do this minimally on the side just to keep the dream alive and for me as a mother who never shy from taking risks I had to cut back personally as I have a family to think about and it is no longer just about me so I agree with Clare on leaving financial security behind.”

Kat Van Schyndel

“As a felmale in business it often blows my mind that women still have a more difficult time getting financing to start a business, however dispite this we are growing in numbers. Women tend to be very good at multi tasking and have decide rather than lending those skills to a make CEO to become one themselves. No worries ladies, we are legion.”

What is needed here is the support and the backing of the entire society as a whole when it is a woman who steps up to undertake a humongous task. There is very little space granted and people don’t give enough recovery time, they relish witnessing failure because that is what they expect to see. As if it affirms the idea that woman belongs in the kitchen or inside a household only in the minds of the backward people with chauvinistic mentality, and you would be surprised to find how many there are. People don’t always forgive a woman for failing to achieve her goal. That is the real reason why a woman is less likely to step up to a challenge, feels risk averse, and prefers to play it safe.

Join conversation on LinkedIn.

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.