For centuries women have outgrown the roles which they were previously bottled in, but they seem to be struggling to conquer the entrepreneurial sphere.
The numbers don’t add up. Why are there fewer female entrepreneurs and what’s hindering them?
If you look at the FORBES list of billionaires you’ll notice there are fewer women than men on the list and even fewer of those women are self-made billionaires (56 globally in 2017) – a considerable number have inherited their wealth.
Madam C. J. Walker is someone I hold in high esteem. She is regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in America and the world’s most successful female entrepreneur of her time. She did this despite being an African-American in the late 1800s, into the early 1900s, in a racially segregated country at the time.
On our continent, we have Folorunsho Alakija from Nigeria who has made billions from a clothing business and then venturing to oil.
There is a vast difference between what an entrepreneur is passionate about and what is commercially viable. It could be for this reason you find many women gravitating to sectors such as fashion, training, consulting, cosmetics, and their fascination with social entrepreneurship.
Passion is key and there is nothing wrong with those sectors, but we need to start graduating to the next level of pragmatism and what’s possible for all humankind.
It can’t be a trend that ladies married to successful entrepreneurs usually go into philanthropy.
I’m deeply concerned about what is transpiring, for I believe women are equally or more competent than men. Women need to shatter the perception that they blossom in smaller companies whereas men tend to run bigger companies.
However, women are successful despite facing many challenges that their male counterparts don’t. Women have to balance both family life and building a business. They are also less likely to get funding.
As equal rights were granted to all, women were able to integrate into fields they would have not necessarily occupied before. However, many still feel that one could be more effective running your own business if you didn’t have to deal with kids.
With regards to women struggling to find funding, Donna Kelley, lead author of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report, states that, “Women are less likely to receive venture capital funding. The fact that those making the investment decisions are primarily men can be an influencing factor.”
Much of the reasons associated with the lack of representation of women is due to the roles assigned to gender is primarily biological. Women are seen as caring and house-based individuals whereas men are seen as decision-making and dominant individuals. This perpetuates itself in numerous business sectors.
It is even more of a challenge when you’re coming in as a female having to give direction to males that may not appreciate it.
In the business world, women are often not taken seriously or, even worse, merely reduced to a potential sex partner. Many meetings are converted to flirting sessions – and if the lady does not cooperate, she stands a chance to lose the deal. This results in women developing mistrust, and working even harder to avoid being seen as ‘sleeping their way to the top’.
Instead of hindering women in business, let them excel and dominate sectors where they are often underrepresented and yet overachieve. – Written by Paul Mashegoane