For decades, women have been struggling with rigid social restrictions and fighting for equal rights. With the industrial revolution came the shift from farming to manufacture and labor. For some time, taking part at these jobs was exclusive to men. A bit by bit, that has changed thanks to the effort of many inspiring women who believed in empowering women. Lately, business women have been conquering the entrepreneurship world and achieving high scores too. Women entrepreneurship has been proving itself successful, and in many cases, accomplishing more than men. Some stories are truly inspiring in the way those women have overcome difficulties. This article shall shed the light the on some of these inspiring stories so that we may understand the challenges facing women entrepreneurship and why some women are still insecure about succeeding in business.
History and Background
For many years, gender roles have assigned a “domestic” role for women, while men were required to support their family financially. During the twentieth century, and especially after World War II, the world has witnessed revolutionary changes in the status of women in business. Women started to defy the patriarchal culture which limited their educational and professional progress, and therefore, hindered them from competing with men. In 2012, “126 million women entrepreneurs were starting or running new businesses in 67 economies.” This number may look small when compared to the number of men entrepreneurship. However, this number represents a huge leap compared to how the market looked like seventy years ago. According to the Catalyst, women represent about forty six percent of the workforce. Today, women are present in every field, assuming managerial positions, and receiving the highest degrees from the fanciest universities.
What Are the Challenges Facing Women Entrepreneurship?
While celebrating how far women have come, we should not forget that there are much more challenges facing female entrepreneurs than those facing male entrepreneurs even nowadays. Unfortunately, many women feel intimidated to start their own business due to several reasons.
Fear of Failure
Fear of failure is associated with other common concepts and myths: stereotypes, male dominated industries, and gender pay gap.
Stereotypes and Social Roles
There are still stereotypes that insist that women are less successful entrepreneurs than men. When asked about their ability to run a business, women usually show less confidence in themselves. “A third of the female population would start a business if it wasn’t for the fear of failure.” It is surprising that despite the great success women entrepreneurs achieve, most people have an inner belief that entrepreneurship is too risky and involves more responsibilities than a woman can handle. Childcare and maternity leaves also contribute to such stereotypes. Many still believe, especially in developing countries, that a woman’s “natural” place is at home taking care of children.
Male Dominated Industries
There are many fields where women struggle to find a chance due to misconceptions about that field being too “complicated” or includes a lot of “manly work.” Only 15% of engineering and technology undergraduates are females. Therefore, it is way more challenging for a female to find a job or start a business in such fields. It is no wonder that in many cases, women entrepreneurship are expected to have a “feminine” nature.
Gender Pay Gap
Women are still paid less than men in the UK. Among the top 10% of earners, the majority are men. This gap is discouraging to many women and affect their choice when choosing a niche for their business.
Examples of Women Entrepreneurship
Chanel is, hands down, the most popular and most influential clothes designer in the history of fashion industry. She was all what a woman entrepreneur should be. Daring, innovative, and initiative. Chanel started her business during World War I, and she had a unique vision for fashion which suits the modern woman. She was bold enough to free women from tight corsets and annoying clutches (bags which you hold in your hands.) She developed new concepts and introduced the notion of comfortable style which has revolutionized women’s wardrobes ever since.
Burton works for the famous clothing brand Alexander McQueen. She climbed up the ladder till she became the creative director of the entire brand. In 2011, Burton’s name shined brightly as the designer of the royal wedding dress for Kate Middleton. Burton was on Time’s magazine list of the 100 most influential people in 2012. She currently leads the fancy brand with stability and elegance.
The well-known media queen. Despite Winfrey’s tough upbringing, she has managed to turn her life upside down becoming one of the most successful women ever. She has faced several difficulties due to being an African-American woman. Oprah has interviewed the greatest icons of music, films, sports, you name it. She is now the supervising producer and host for The Oprah Winfrey Show. In addition, Winfrey has established her own magazine and her website, too. She is truly one of the most influential women entrepreneurs in the world reaching almost 50 million viewers a week through TV alone.
Examples of Women Entrepreneurship in Male Dominated Industries
The tech industry is known for being a male dominated industry. However, this rule does not seem to apply on Wang at all. Cher Wang is the co-founder and chairperson of HTC. She is considered one of the wealthiest people in Taiwan with a net worth of 850 million dollars. After HTC has gained a reputation for being the official manufacturer of handheld devices for all top mobile phone brands. Wang did not stop there. She teamed up with leading mobile carriers and made use of her company’s technical expertise. Soon enough, HTC became one of the top selling mobile phone brands and competed with established names.
Rashmi Sinha is an Indian-American business woman who created an online presentation tool called SlideShare. SlideShare is very popular among a lot of small businesses and start-ups. Combining an experience of two completely different fields; neuropsychology and computer science, she became an unstoppable woman. In 2012, Sinha was number eight on Fortune’s list of the most powerful women entrepreneurs.
The Power of She
The list of women entrepreneurship goes on and on. Every success story has something that we can learn from. Women entrepreneurs may have some qualities in common such as determination, intelligence, and ambition. However, each one has a unique entrepreneurship idea that distinguishes her business from another’s even if they both have the same niche. More and more women are interested in entrepreneurship nowadays and the choices are endless. Choose an entrepreneurship idea which suits your financial resources, personal preferences, and abilities. Choosing a niche or an idea also requires some market research to better understand the needs of your surrounding market. Read more about how to run a business, develop yourself and improve your skills. Finally, do not be afraid to take some risks or try something new, experimentation is part of the journey.