There aren’t too many women in business. It is only a few decades back that women have started rising in the ranks and/or running their businesses. But we still have a long way to go. Right now, women entrepreneurs own and/or run around 50% of small businesses around the world. But, only a very low 2% of major business ventures are backed by women. This shows a lot. It’s either that women are just as trusted as men in handling smaller enterprises, but not when it comes to big ones. Or women have only trusted themselves to smaller and safer ventures.
I think it is a combination of both internal and external factors that held back women from fully achieving equality in the business community.
Factors that Hold Women Back
The external factors may include the societal discrimination and traditions that dictate women to take a secondary role, after her brother or husband. It may also include gender norms, poverty, and education. Fighting a strong and obstinate society is extremely difficult. This is why there are more successful women in business in the openminded and progressive societies than it is in the intolerant and blinkered countries.
Women are rarely raised to lead. From childhood, they are preconditioned to support and nurture the leaders. Be a good wife. Be a good mother. Be an exemplary hostess. Be prim. Always look good. Follow the rules. We were taught hospitality skills, cooking skills, and fashion skills, while our brothers were taught the business economics, the power of networking, and how to lead people. It was drilled unto us that women should stay home, while men go out to conquer the world.
However, the internal factors are also as strong and defining. Women in the most progressive countries will still have to endure from insecurity, fear, and lack of support. The internal factors are often harder on women in openminded communities. Women who have to struggle in her society develop a fiercer countenance and a stronger resolve, while women in the freer societies will have to toughen herself up and push herself to face her fears.
The Power of Sisterhood
Women supporting women has proven to be an effective factor that boosts women’s chances to succeed in business. Just like how it works with men, support and camaraderie amongst women entrepreneurs create positive energy and a more dynamic environment. In many business sectors, women leaders hold talks and meetings with their fellow sisters in trade. These sessions are designed to share experiences, encourage new members, and bond together to inspire one another.
I have been to a few such meetings. It is a wonderful experience that I will cherish and will always go to every chance I have. I learn a lot, meet new friends, and have fun too!
What makes sisterhood special as it is effective is the wonderful connection amongst women. A man will never understand the pain and joy of childrearing, the silliness of all-girls sleepovers, the importance of good hair, and the stigma of our gender. It will take another woman to empathize with our clashes with our mothers and daughters. Only women will understand a loving heart behind the reprimands and the best intentions beyond the stern orders.
We are neither weak nor ruled by our bodies. We are as strong as any man. We have raging hormones and other physical challenges, but if we can survive childbirth (and do it again), then everything else is just a walk in the park. We are strong and self-sufficient – on our own or with our partners. But we also need the support, understanding, and love of our sisters. This is why I subscribe to mentoring and sisterhood. We need that connection.