prah Winfrey, J. K. Rowling, Michelle Mone, Sara Blakely and of course Queen Bey herself – what do all these women have in common? They have global fame for being strong, confident, powerful women who started from the bottom and paved their own way to achieving formidable success.
In today’s society the entrepreneurial vigour is strong, with more and more men and women looking to start up their own business and find innovative new ways to make money. However out of all the startups worldwide, only 22% are founded by at least one woman, and surveys have shown that female business owners do feel time and time again as if they face greater hurdles than their male counterparts.
So, what is it that’s stopping other women from becoming the next Indra Nooyi? Why is it so hard for females to replicate their success and make a name for themselves in business?
The road to success for a woman has certainly been proven to be rougher than that for men. Whilst things are definitely slowly improving, there are still inequalities when it comes to pay, opportunity and workplace support, and women can sometimes feel like the odds are against them.
In some countries, opportunities for female founders to emerge and flourish are restricted by religious ruling, social constraints or years of tradition. These barriers are slowly and thankfully coming down now across the world. In the Middle East for example, women are now able to obtain a driving licence and drive freely, opening up a wealth of opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
But there’s still a long way to go. The pay disparity between men and women in so many different industries still remains a hot topic for discussion, with the question being raised: if a woman is doing the same job as a man, then why pay her less? It’s certainly something that needs actionable change, but the shifting of mindset and the tangible changes to policy means that the overall acceptance of women in the workplace is improving.
Thankfully when it comes to the typical ‘role’ of a woman, this way of thinking is also modernising. What was once an era of ‘man makes money’ and ‘woman stays home’-style philosophy, we see more and more of a blurred line between those two categories and more a case of simply ‘everyone doing everything’.
With that said however, there still can be challenges faced with juggling commitments and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Women taking maternity leave can often come across pressure to return to work early or feel stress for ‘sacrificing’ career obligations in order to have a baby.These difficulties may all be personal feelings internally felt by new mums, or more stringent issues brought to light by the actual employer. As a business owner, there are obviously limited means to take sufficient time off to raise a family, with many women either struggling to do both or, in extreme cases, choosing to put that completely on hold until their startups are established.
Many working females feel the pressure of wearing so many‘ hats’ in their daily lives and the high expectations that come with running successful businesses whilst being a homeowner, a spouse, a mother and more.Being stretched in different directions and giving your all to every individual role is hard going. The strains of so many balls in the air can create a burden that often makes or breaks a budding female entrepreneur and may be the reason as to why so few end up being successful.
Without unwarranted obstacles in their path, women have proven themselves to be capable of phenomenal success. There are fantastic examples of inspirational women who have broken the moulds, defied the odds and fought their way to the top, through their determination, drive and passion.
The author J. K. Rowling is an example of that exact rags-to-riches, strong-willed success story. She found triumph through her creation of the Harry Potter stories, whilst juggling her role as a single mother living on benefits. Her first book was rejected many times before finally being accepted to publish, and she went on to write 6 others in the series and related literary works, as well as create a billion-dollar empire of movie, theatre productions, theme parks and merchandise. But not without challenges –even down to her name, which she was forced to change to ‘J. K’ by her publishers in the fear that young boys wouldn’t want to read a book written by a woman.
Adversity, hardship, rejection, barriers – they’ve all helped in creating some of history’s most celebrated women, and the female spirit of determination, self-motivation and pride has continued to shine through. Women are tough cookies – fighting for the right to vote, the right to be recognised, and the right to be equal.
Spotlight on Change
It’s hard to escape the fact that the world is changing and a new era for women appears to be dawning. The Me-Too movement, equal pay regulations, feminist movements and awareness surrounding general female empowerment – they are all helping lead a conversation worldwide. And that’s a great start!
For the budding female entrepreneur, with the great idea and the passion to launch the ‘next big thing’, one hopes that the road to their success is becoming clearer. Reducing roadblocks, preventing unnecessary obstacles, laying the foundations for a level playing field are all vital to allow talent to shine through regardless of gender.
So, let’s change the statistic, let’s join the conversation, and let’s get women at the forefront of the next wave of successful startups!!