The issue of gender inequality has been a prominent topic throughout history, and despite women over 30 gaining the right to vote in 1918, the need for feminism is still prevalent in modern society.
In recent years, women have made great strides in the world of business, but nevertheless, there’s no doubt that female entrepreneurs are still facing a number of challenges in the workplace in comparison to their male counterparts.
Today, we’re exploring some of the challenges female entrepreneurs face, and how they can overcome these obstacles in their quest for a successful business.
1. Managing time between work and family life
Whether it’s a startup or well established business, finding that work-life balance is difficult for any entrepreneur – regardless of gender. While the notions of sharing parental leave and the decision to opt for a female breadwinner are becoming increasingly popular, traditional gender expectations often still prevail.
Starting a family can create all sort of challenges in the workplace for a woman. From finding time to fit in antenatal appointments to sharing responsibilities between their business and family, a female entrepreneurs can face far more taxing time management issues than male workers. There’s no right answer to the work-life balance either, it’s all down to personal preference and the demands of the business – meaning female entrepreneurs can often feel guilty for not fitting into the stereotypical roles and expectations.
Remember that no-one can succeed at doing everything, so expect to compromise on some aspects of your life.
2. Gaining access to funding
While not all startups require funding from investors, raising capital can be a difficult process for any business owner. Statistics show that the challenge only increases for female entrepreneurs, with some U.S reports showing that less than 3% of venture-capital-funded companies were run by a female CEO. Though it may be unintentional, investors frequently fund those who they can relate to, meaning finding an investment in a male-dominated environment is a far greater obstacle for a female entrepreneur.
Overcome the challenge by seeking funds from female-run investment groups and give investors additional confidence by ensuring that you employ experts in business operations on your founding team.
3. Overcoming social expectations
With the majority of top spots in business being taken by male figures, it’s no surprise that there’s so much inequality between genders. Increasingly, female entrepreneurs are defying the socially constructed gender roles and hence creating more balanced CEO statistics, but many of these female business owners are adopting a stereotypically ‘male’ attitude towards business in an effort to reiterate their power.
Being competitive, aggressive and harsh may seem like the only method of commanding respect in a male-dominated world, but successful female CEOs often advocate that finding your own voice and retaining your true values can be far more impactful than conforming to preconceived expectations.
4. The lack of role models
In a male-dominated business environment, there is a distinct lack of coverage of successful female entrepreneurs. With fewer female role models visible in the business world compared to men, it can be difficult for women-led businesses to adopt the strategies employed by successful female CEOs. Women typically start businesses in the sectors that they are most familiar with, meaning there is a significantly low percentage of female startups in the tech and mathematics sectors.
By increasing the number of women that are employed in technical positions in this sector, we should start to see more female startups in these industries – creating a healthier balance of both male and female role models across various industries.
5. Patriarchal business environments
With the business sector still typically oriented toward a male domain, women launching businesses are frequently faced with the patriarchal nature of business structures. Whether they’re investment companies or clients, many businesses tend to subliminally offer patronage to those most similar to them. In a male-dominated industry, that creates a patriarchal environment which excludes women and makes leading a business as a female even more challenging.
As a female entrepreneur, choosing to do business with other female-led companies is one of the best ways to dissolve the patriarchy in the industry. While women may be typically treated as the outsiders to the system, joining forces with other successful female CEOs means you can help to create an industry that’s equal between genders.
The feminist movement and evolving societal values means that women are gaining more and more opportunity for reaching the top positions in business. While female entrepreneurs still face a number of unfair obstacles, it’s vital that we overcome these challenges and seek success in the industry.
Dani is a beauty blogger for Zen Lifestyle, an Edinburgh beauty salon. This award-winning independent salon and spa, founded in 1999 by beauty therapist turned businesswoman, Fiona Fowley, has won a total of 18 national beauty awards and expanded to include 3 locations around the city.