• Susanne Birgersdotter

In most of my business career, I have been around men. I have worked with men, have men bosses, and have been a boss to males too. I have constantly been surrounded by businessmen and met too few women. I wondered, why aren’t there as many businesswomen as there are men?

Of course, I know the answers to that.

Society doesn’t really encourage women to be entrepreneurs. Sexism and stereotyping urge girls to follow less strenuous and kinder vocations, and a career in business is not amongst them. I have total respect and admiration for women who chose to pursue other careers, especially if it is truly their passion. But being in business myself has exposed me to the plight of a businesswoman. Therefore, I’m focusing my advocacy to helping women rise above the challenges and succeed.

Gender discrimination is everywhere but is most apparent in the business world. The lady boss is the exemption, not the norm. And trust me, that lady has to fight her way up. If a guy entrepreneur is struggling, it is doubly harder for her. I’ve experienced cold stares, unimpressed receptionists, dismissive partners, unreturned calls, and dropped deals – just because I’m a woman.

I have felt as if men are ganging up on me. They share this brotherhood that I cannot join. They conduct business deals and meetings in places I cannot be. They develop camaraderie in a way a woman cannot do. I’m always left outside the door. Just because I’m a woman.

I don’t blame men for that. I know it isn’t their fault that they’re dealt with better cards in life. I blame the narrow societal beliefs and backward traditions. Why can’t a girl be trained in the family store and not asked to help in the kitchen? Why are girls encouraged to be accepting and appreciative, while boys are programmed to be go-getters and leaders?

I’m not saying women shouldn’t be accepting or appreciative, I’m fighting for equality, that women should be given the chance accorded to men. Give her support, training, acceptance given to men. And her place in the business, whether it’s the customer support desk or the corner office.

I want to help balance the equation and give women the support they need. With my experience and voice, I hope to share with them the challenges I’ve faced and overcome, the lessons I’ve learned, and the joys of winning. By sharing my experiences, I hope to banish their self-doubts, to strengthen their resolve, and to push them to work harder.

I seek to meet women entrepreneurs from around the world. I believe that through unity and community spirit, women can help other women. Together, we can share stories and insights, inspire each other, and boost one others’ confidence. By building a community of women, with the same goals in life and going through similar struggles, I believe we can help each other, even by just knowing that there are other women who are reading through your stories and counting on you to succeed.

I aim to empower women entrepreneurs through guidance and mentorship. I can also be your friend, a sounding board, or a listener. But, a whole community of women, who love and support each other, will be much more effective than just me on the other side. I’ve witnessed strength in numbers as I dealt with businessmen. I believe in myself and I think I’m a strong person. But, when facing a roomful of men who have placed themselves above women in the business sense, I can feel the pressure against me. How I long to be with a gang of businesswomen to tip the balance.

Women must support other women. Society, traditions, and physiology have placed us in the backseat. But that is about to change. We are just starting to realize that we don’t have to be the submissive gender, that we can be whoever we hope to be and that we’re equal in all aspects in life. Different, yes. But also, equal.

There is still a long way to go, and a lot of work yet to be done. But we’ve already started, and there’s no stopping us now.