• Susanne Birgersdotter

They used to describe male as the stronger sex, and female the fairer one. I can never convince myself to agree with that. This was the unquestionable perception in the Dark Ages – where war, brute force, and male domination were the norm. That is why we have kingdoms, not queendoms, stories are history and never herstory. Male heirs precede their older sisters. Smart men were exalted and became scholars while thinking women were condemned to be witches.

The Dark Ages are long gone, but the remnants of gender discrimination are still very much around. In some cultures, women are still considered inferior to men. Hollywood is rife of gender discrimination. Not only are women susceptible to sexual harassment and abuse, but there is also a notable disparity between male and female actors’ talent fees. Some institutions, careers, and professions around the world are still exclusive to men.

Sadly, women in business are still subject to gender discrimination.

As a woman in business, I have personally experienced and have witnessed many types of sex discrimination in the workplace, in the upper management, and in dealing with clients and partners. I have worked harder and contributed more to a company than my male counterparts and they were being paid higher. I have been passed over for promotion in favor of a male colleague. I’ve seen companies where women were relegated to certain roles – support, secretary, admin, customer care, assistant to the president. Never the manager, the CEO, or the president. Those were reserved for the guys.

As a CEO, I have been turned down by many investors simply because of my sex. I have been quizzed of my knowledge and doubted of my capabilities of holding the position. It was not me, the person, it was more of me being a woman.

Gender discrimination was and still is my biggest pain as a businesswoman. I can work as hard as anyone, have the guts and smarts just like any man. I’m willing to learn and immerse myself into any undertaking, I can lead as much as I can faithfully follow. What I cannot do is change my gender. And that’s what makes it so frustrating. Because there is nothing that I can do about it.

I’m proud to be a woman as I am proud to be a woman in business. I embrace my gender and everything that comes with it. I flaunt it. I wear beautiful clothes and wear makeup. I like my girly things. I conduct business my way – decisively, boldly, womanly. I do not aspire to be a man or a businessman. I love being a woman, but I’m also fighting for more equality.

The business industry and society, in general, have slowly embraced gender equality. Change is coming, at last. Companies are slowly adapting to the enlightened era of equality and more women are now emerging as leaders and pioneers in business as wells as in other fields. We can never change anatomy, physically, the male can indeed be stronger, but in many other aspects, I believe the female is just as strong and definitely stronger in some. So, I keep striving to better myself, to empower women, and to help them win their race. So, we keep fighting.