Gender is the social annotation of defining a man and a woman. It is the social construction of the behaviours and norms associated with the two. Biologically, there are two sexes, male and female, distinguished by their body forms. Since traditional times these body forms have been a barrier to women’s success and careers. Women were stopped from being in the outer world due to their weak bodies and low ability to work. Even the gender gap worked in workplaces for years as women could not get the same power and faced several issues from their male counterparts (Giddens, 2017).
Figure 1: Women Entrepreneur
Source: The Economic Times
According to the Dalai Lama, “Biologically, females have more potential. Females have more sensitivity about others’ wellbeing.” Hence, where patriarchy prevails, it is tough for a woman to be an entrepreneur yet challenging. Interestingly, when examined thoroughly, it is seen that women try to do business like a man. Being human, they adopt the natural ways taught from childhood and do not imply their core values. This might be why women are still in the minority even after being entrepreneurs. They make on average 20% less than men, which results in failing faster than what a man earns (Durocher, 2022).
Since women are continuously stepping foot in the outer world, it is one of the most vital issues to look into the gendered division of domestic labour. As per research, it is still observed that the division of domestic labour is unequal. Women still carry out more chores in the house than their male counterparts. This is limiting their foot to paid employment. On average, it has been noticed that in women who earn more than their male counterparts, the male does more household chores. But women still in partnership do more (Lyonette, C. & Crompton, R.,2014).
Challenges Faced by Women in Business
The preconceived notions, the stereotypes, the biases, all the odds that women entrepreneurs just have to go through due to the traditional male business policies. Here are some of the basic challenges that women face while doing business:
Women entrepreneurs are expected to act like their male counterparts. They are expected to do business as men do, obstructing to defy their social expectations. A woman entrepreneur possess certain characteristics and their way of running an industry is much different. Hence, successful women entrepreneurs have often said that staying true to themselves has helped them to raise their voices against all biases (Fernandes & Sanfilippo, 2023).
Women entrepreneurs face the issue of fundraising. According to the 2014 Babson College Report, among the fundraising capital, it was only 3% of the businesses are owned by females. Without the help of funding, women entrepreneurs struggle to establish their companies (Fernandes & Sanfilippo, 2023).
Women entrepreneurs struggle to balance responsibilities. Women have different role-plays in society. They are not only entrepreneurs, but also have a spouse, children, home, and various other responsibilities to look after. It becomes very difficult for them to balance their personal and professional life. Changing a role from a leader to a caregiver, women entrepreneurs sometimes find themselves in the loop (Rani, 2020).
Advantages of Women in Business
Despite all the challenges, there are certain advantages that people should notice. The core of a business is formed by women and hence they are like a cherry on top of a cake.
There are perks to a woman entrepreneur who can enjoy being in business. Women are empathetic and have emotional intelligence. This makes women the most valuable resource in a company. They can deal with workplace situations and conflicts efficiently, making them develop their leadership qualities. Their soft skills make them more crucial in professional areas than their male counterparts (White, 2021).
Having a diverse team in a business is always a way of innovation. Taking into account women’s ways of experiences and perspectives makes a team more creative and gives them new ideas. The experiences of men and women are different, leading women to influence how they do business (EU Business School, 2022).
Women have a higher rate of consumer insights. Starting from buying houses to paying for health, women are 85% of consumer purchases. This makes women build great customer relationships. Businesses that are gender diverse tend to profit 15% more than the median business profit level (EU Business School, 2022).
Two Stories of Successful Women Entrepreneurs
Whatever the hurdles may be, women inspire everyone. They took on challenges, took on the education system, started owning their businesses and balanced their household. Here are 2 stories of successful women entrepreneurs who inspire us to date.
Kiran Mazumder Shaw: She is the CEO of Biocon and started her company in the year 1978. She said in her interview with Forbes that it was not easy at all for her to start the business. When she started her business she had no workers and all the bankers turned her down. They turned down her request for a $10,000 credit. She is now the richest woman in India worth $4.1 billion and is among the 100 most powerful women in the world (Egan, 2004).
Melinda Gates: Being a philanthropist, Melinda Gates is an important female figure to bring up gender inequality issues. She takes the initiative to work on gender equality and has also worked on Covid vaccine and treatment research. She has also spoken about the caregiving crisis, which has driven 2 million women out of the American workforce. Gates said to Howard in 2015 about her motive to speak up for these social issues, “I kept looking for the advocate who would champion these issues." "But I couldn't find the one who embodied to me the voice of women around the world. And so I thought, 'If I'm the one, then I just need to do it. I have to have courage and not worry” (Howard, 2015).
As per World Bank research, it is seen that in China women's labour force is around 61% which is much higher. The country gives women the opportunity to become successful business owners. Two-thirds of the country has female billionaires which makes gender equality a promising future. Developed countries are trying to minimise the gender gap and this is progressing slowly (Durocher, 2022).
Durocher, Y. (2022, March 2). Council post: Women empowerment through entrepreneurship and resilience. Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2022/02/28/women-empowerment-through-entrepreneurship-and-resilience/?sh=5e675422d9d3
Egan, M. E. (2004, October 18). Big shot in Bangalore. Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/forbes/2004/1018/088.html?sh=dfcec8842784
EU Business School, (2022, February 09). Women's empowerment in the business sector: Advantages, challenges and opportunities: EU Business School. Retrieved February 09, 2023, from https://www.euruni.edu/blog/women-empowerment-in-the-business-sector-advantages-challenges-and-opportunities/
Fernandes, P. & Sanfilippo, M. (2023, January 23). Challenges women entrepreneurs face. Business News Daily. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5268-women-entrepreneur-challenges.html
Giddens, A. & Sutton, P. W. (2017). Gender and Sexuality. In Sociology (8th ed., pp. 613-658). New Delhi, India: Wiley India.
Howard, C. (2015, December 9). The first woman of women: How Melinda Gates became the world's most powerful advocate for women and girls. Forbes. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2015/11/23/the-first-woman-of-women-how-melinda-gates-became-the-worlds-most-powerful-advocate-for-women-and-girls/?sh=338789814414
Lyonette, C. & Crompton, R. (2014). Sharing the load? partners’ relative earnings and the division of Domestic Labour. Work, Employment and Society, 29(1), 23–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017014523661
Rani, J. (2020, October 26). Challenges of Women entrepreneurs. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from https://www.opengrowth.com/resources/challenges-of-women-entrepreneurs
White, J. (2021, October 19). Advantages, challenges, and opportunities for Businesswomen Today. Honolulu Financial Partners. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.honolulufinancialpartners.com/blog/advantages-challenges-and-opportunities-for-businesswomen-today#:~:text=Advantages%20Women%20Have%20in%20Business&text=High%20levels%20of%20self%2Dawareness,valuable%2C%20especially%20in%20leadership%20positions.&text=Women%20also%20provide%20consumer%20insight,85%25%20of%20all%20consumer%20purchases.
A sociology geek, Annesha is passionate about writing. Everyone has heard, that when you dream of reaching the moon, you can at least touch the stars. Such goes with Annesha, who is a post-graduate in Sociology from Jadavpur University, India. She is also an Odissi dancer, which makes her feet tap wherever there is music. Writing and dancing is her passion since childhood. In Maya Angelou’s words, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style”. This has driven her life this far. In her leisure time, she picks up the books of her favourite sociologists and gets drowned in them. Also, being a lover of creativity, Annesha tries to make cute stationary things with her digital drawing skills.