The world needs more women in business — at all ages, and in all industries.
For generations business has been dominated by men, and women were relegated to the role of homemaker and caretaker. Battling the stereotypes of a woman’s place being in the kitchen, not the boardroom. Thankfully, we are now seeing more and more women stepping into business and starting businesses than ever before — even outpacing men in entrepreneurship.
And while as women, we bring a unique set of skills and experiences to the table that make for better business, it is still not without its unique set of challenges. In this article we will discuss the benefits of women lead business, as well as the challenges women must overcome to be in leadership roles.
Challenges of being a Woman in Business
In business, there are many challenges we as women face that our male counterparts do not. Including…
(1) Gender Bias & Underrepresentation
As women, we are more likely to have our experience questioned, and we are more likely to receive scrutiny than men. It is assumed that women are naive when it comes to business experience, while men are omniscient. This is especially seen in industries that are considered “unfeminine” and typically male-dominated such as finance, engineering, and STEM.
Additionally, women experience gender bias if we display any emotion, passion, ambition, or assertiveness in the workplace. While these qualities are rewarded amongst men in boardrooms, when a woman displays them she is seen as “bossy” or “over-emotional”. Because that is how we have been programmed as a society to view women from a very young age.
(2) Confidence Gap
Due to the lack of representation of women in business and the gender bias, women often experience lack of self-belief and confidence in their ability. Which can prevent them from pursuing roles, self-promoting, or advocating for themselves in business. This is due to fear of receiving a negative response, even when there is no gap in qualification or ability. Which causes women to remain in support positions where they will not receive scrutiny or negative attention.
Due to this, women will only apply to a job when they feel they are 100% qualified for it, whereas men will apply if they only meet 60% of the qualifications. Proving that women are talking themselves out of roles before they even apply due to the confidence gap.
(3) Lack of Funding
Despite the rise of entrepreneurship, and more and more women choosing to start their own businesses, there is still a lack of funding when it comes to female owned and operated businesses. Only an estimated 2.3% of venture capitalist funding in 2020 went toward women-led businesses. And some female entrepreneurs have even said that it feels as though VCs make female founders beg for money. Proving the fact that it is harder for women to raise enough money to keep their business afloat.
This is partly due to lack of female representation in VC firms, proving that the more representation women have the more funding women will receive. Which overall is due to the gender bias.
Benefits of Women lead Businesses
While we as women in business do face numerous challenges, the positive impact we have on the business world are plentiful too. Thanks to businesswomen and female entrepreneurs significant change is occurring and we are helping to shape the future of how business is run.
Here are a few of the ways in which women are helping to enact positive change and transform how business is done, not only right now but for future generations as well.
(1) Fresh Ideas and Innovation
As women we see and experience the world differently than men do, therefore we bring a unique perspective and approach to our work. This helps to bring fresh ideas and innovation into every sector. This is of benefit to consumers as well as businesses because they are creating new markets in every industry by creating new products and services that are more relevant to different consumer groups.
Which also means that having women in business not only increases innovation, it increases diversity and inclusion in businesses by creating new markets that serve marginalized groups within the greater population. This is done by creating a wider range of services and products so that consumers can make choices that are more relevant to them and their needs.
(2) New Approach to Leadership
Due to women having differing life experiences from men they bring a unique set of skills and competencies into leadership roles that create a new dynamic and approach to leadership overall. This is seen in their so-called “soft” skills such as emotional intelligence, adaptability, teamwork, conflict management and resolution, and communication and listening skills. All of which are vital for effective leadership but often overlooked in favor of more “hard skills”. But the truth is, as a leader, it is essential to be able to work with, communicate with, and understand others. Hard skills can be taught, but the ability to encourage your team, be patient, and have empathy and understanding for people is much harder to teach.
Additionally, people tend to choose to hire or work with people that are more similar to themselves, therefore with more women representation in positions of leadership, more opportunities open for other women. And due to their differing approach to leadership, the more appealing working within that industry becomes to others as well.
(3) Changing Societal Norms
It takes courage to enter into the male-dominated business world as a woman due to the discrimination and many challenges that we face. However, the more we do, the more we are creating greater societal change. By not standing down we are defying harmful stereotypes surrounding women in business and helping to move away from damaging societal norms.
When women take a stand, go after what they want, and do business their way — they are challenging the status quo. And the more we as women do this, the more we make our voices heard, the more we stand in our power and believe in ourselves, the greater positive impact we can create within the business world and beyond.
Powerful Reminders for Women in Business
As a woman in business, you aren’t here to be like everyone else in your field. You are not meant to follow in the footsteps of men in business and do things the way that they do them. You are not here to stick to the status quo and do things how they’ve always been done. You are meant to use your unique experiences and perspective to create new ways of doing things, to carve a new path. Give yourself permission to do things your way.
Your “soft” skills are your superpower. They are what will set you apart from the men in your industry. Especially in leadership positions, use them. Being empathetic, compassionate, and understanding will help you to create better relationships with your team and therefore will help to produce better work, and ultimately make your business more profitable. Don’t let anyone make you feel like those skills aren’t just as valuable as trained “hard” skills.
Your voice is needed, use it. The world needs more women sharing their voice. By sharing your voice and story you inspire and empower other women to do the same. This is how we shake and change societal norms. Keep using your voice.
As you can see, there are so many reasons that having women in business and leadership positions is beneficial, not only for other women but for everyone. This is not just a conversation for women to be having. It is important for men to be a part of the discussion of the current inequalities facing women in business and the power of having more women in business. The truth is, having more women in starting businesses doesn’t mean less businesses for men. It means there are more opportunities for all of us.
Ultimately there needs to be a cultural shift in how we treat women in business and leadership roles. From corporate executive boards, to VC funding for startups, right down to each of us individually. We all need to be doing our part to each societal change by having conversations like this. By defying stereotypes, advocating for diversity and equality in the business world, and empowering women’s voices in the business world we can all help to balance the scales and create a more equitable tomorrow.
This is why I choose to work primarily with women in business, I see this as my fight, and the more mission driven female led businesses that are thriving, the more we all progress as a society. If you are a female leader of a mission driven business and you desire to be more visible and reach more people with your message — click here to schedule your free content audit.