Since mentoring many small business hopefuls I’ve come to realize a very disturbing fact. Many very bright and hopeful female entrepreneurs have crossed my path with the mistaken idea that just being a woman gives them an advantage over their male counterparts. Sadly, this is not as true as we’ve been led to believe.
For instance, certainly the female population of today is much better off than their mother’s or grandmothers, but obtaining financial support/loans isn’t viewed by bankers any differently than it is for male entrepreneurs.
A myth has been circulating for years that have led entrepreneurs to believe that women-owned and minority-owned businesses can obtain loans easier. Unfortunately, that is only a myth.
If your entrepreneurial dream requires a bank loan, the process isn’t any easier if you’re a woman or a minority. The only slight advantage is that there may be additional lending sources available if you’re in either of these categories. But you still have to sell the lender on your business and means of repayment.
Both male and female executives in the corporate arena have much in common in terms of professional aspirations. However, the playing field is far from being equal. A survey was done by a non-profit research group called Catalyst recently. Male & female executives at 1,000 of the largest corporations in the U.S. were surveyed and more than half of the women said that they aspire to a CEO position. They were even willing to make sacrifices such as delaying a marriage and/or children, and that very willingness shouts to us that the field isn’t equal.
Other survey results were as follows:
• 49.5% of all employed managers and professionals are women, but they still tend to manage only other women.
• The highest-paid female executive still earns only 68% of the salary paid to her male counterpart.
• Firms that include women on their senior management teams showed greater improvement in corporate performance.
• 62% of the firms that included women on their senior management team saw their market share grow, compared with only 39% of companies with no female senior management.
Advancements in technology should help ease the movement of more women into leadership. Computers enable women to work more flexible hours and better balance work and family commitments, which is not expected of their male counterparts. (How equal is that?)
So-called feminine leadership traits will grow in importance in the 21st century, according to more than 160 international companies and 75 senior executives’ view of their firm’s progress toward gender equity.
Most respondents (predominantly male) have predicted wide-spread the abandonment of the “command and control” managerial style for a more “team-oriented” approach. That doesn’t seem all that bad to me. I can think of a lot of companies that could use more teamwork and less monarchy leadership.
These business gurus saw this new style as requiring skills that are “more feminine than masculine,” thus giving an edge to female managers. However, another 15-year study has shown that female managers are no more inclusive or democratic than men when making workplace decisions.
As grim as these facts might be, I don’t want to discourage any prospective female entrepreneurs. We females in business know that we may have to work twice as hard for half the recognition and pay, but ladies – statistics show we’ll outlive our male counterparts We know that any woman who is a wife and mother and also in business, could do the job of two air traffic controllers without breaking a sweat even as the airport burns to the ground.
I think most Canadians think that men and women deserve the same opportunities and the same conditions that can help foster their long term success and well-being, both professionally and personally; however, there are facts backing up feminists’ claims: “women have to work twice as hard for half the recognition and pay than their male counterparts.” Putting the numbers behind the claims really makes you wonder: How to bridge the gender gap?
“Walk the Talk: Lead the change by supporting, empowering and encouraging one another to come together as one voice, this gap will no longer exist.”
I currently volunteer with Red Melog (Network of Latin American Women Entrepreneurs of Ottawa-Gatineau). Melog is a network of entrepreneurially minded, dynamic Latin-American women, who want to inspire and empower women by providing tools, energy, education and support for accelerating women leadership journeys.
At Melog, I have had the opportunity to know women from different backgrounds; hence, a range spectrum of feminist views! For instance, the so called-feminists stress the importance of gender divisions in society and it portrays these divisions as working to the overall advantage of men – their beliefs are based on the Patriarchy myth… The Patriarchy has conspired in the oppression of women for the millennia of human civilization whereas the so-called “gender feminism” like me who do not believe in the gender gap (if we are referring to Western civilization, off course), our definition of feminism: It’s about “advocating for equal rights for women and girls and ensuring they have the opportunities to succeed in the society. Although, our views of feminism differ, overall there’s a pretty solid consensus that feminism is not about shifting the power so that women are on top, it’s about recognizing the inherent disadvantages women face and the levels of violence women face and trying to find a balance, and we work towards that goal: “Find Balance”. I would like to personally invite you to visit our website: www.melog.ca and let us know your thoughts.
I am very interested in knowing if you are currently working on any initiatives aimed at offsetting this gap? What your views are on how feminism is being perceived and experienced today? Do you think the narrative used by the government and media is the appropriate to dismantle this myth?