Succeeding as an entrepreneur is no simple task, and can be an even tougher challenges for females who venture into the domain. Apart from the inherent need to defy social expectations, there is also the (painfully ridiculous) issue of not being taken seriously. Thankfully, the 12.3 million businesses owned by women in the US make it unquestionable that success is reachable regardless of gender. And, as companies continue to streamline their businesses irrespective of these challenges, things are moving in the right direction. In the meantime, let’s take a deep dive into some of the key challenges women face when climbing the business ladder.
Minimal funding due to gender biases
A 2017 Pew research indicated that 42% of US women are discriminated against, especially where business funding is concerned. On the global scale, the UNDP puts this statistic at 90% of bias against women. Indeed, the stats are not impressive, and it is quite worrying that this persists in the 21st century. As proof of that, several studies have shown that most women start their businesses with personal investments and savings. In other words, because these female entrepreneurs know the gender gap in funding, their only resort is to look internally for the funds needed. Admittedly, there are lady entrepreneurs who benefitted from the foresight of financiers and donors, but the truth is, they aren’t many. According to those who have tried, these gender prejudices seem hidden until they are faced with the reality of minimal access to business funding. As evidence, fundera.com says only 3.2% of women have access to loans than male entrepreneurs, who have 6.4%. Indeed, with minimal access to funding, it is challenging for women entrepreneurs to secure resources such as physical office spaces. The option to consider the cost of a virtual office as a more cost effective, convenient and cohesive with today’s working environment should be top of the list.
Struggling to be taken seriously
For whatever reason, the entrepreneurial space is considered a male-dominated one. As subtle as it may seem, the woman has to prove herself twice as much as the opposite gender. The subject of being taken seriously in the business space is a serious one. An example of one business personality who faced this problem is the CEO of Jelmar, Alison Gutterman. She lamented the struggles she encountered as a female entrepreneur when she began her career in her earlier years. In an interview, Alison Gutterman recounted how difficult it was for others (especially males) to acknowledge her leadership role in the entrepreneurial space. Meanwhile, others assumed her financial success resulted from her late father and grandfather’s esteemed reputations. Without a doubt, this can take a toll on a woman’s psyche and can limit her from reaching greater heights in the business world.
Balancing business and family life
As part of deeply entrenched societal values, the onus rests with the woman as the primary caregiver at home. This means she is responsible for caring for kids, cooking, and performing other domestic chores. However, it becomes even more demanding for the working woman or the female venturing into the entrepreneurial space. There is a great need to combine business and family life. Have you ever wondered why the expectations are different for the opposite gender? Indeed, the woman bears more pressure in work-life balance as it becomes more like handling two full-time jobs.
Fortunately, the work culture has shifted from what it used to be decades ago, and there is more flexibility. However, more can be done to create a more level ground for women in the business space.