Overcoming Challenges Facing Women in Business
Help for Women Employees and Entrepreneurs
All business owners face certain challenges, but women often have additional and unique obstacles to overcome because of their gender. Their male peers are less likely to encounter these issues. Working women who have children experience even more demands on their time, energy, and resources.
But this does not mean women are less successful than men. In fact, statistics show that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of male-majority-owned businesses. The growing success rate of women entrepreneurs shows that they are resourceful and able to succeed, despite the odds.
Women business owners may face challenges in three major areas that are less common to men in the business.
Gender discrimination is a civil rights violation covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It can involve pay disparities—when women are paid less than men for performing essentially the same job—or demotion or lack of advancement due to taking time off for family or childbirth-related purposes. The term gender discrimination applies whenever anyone is treated differently in the course of employment due to his or her gender.
Although not a federal offense in and of itself, stereotyping falls under the umbrella of gender discrimination. It may come into play when a woman is not thought to be "strong enough" to do a job that entails physical labor or "tough enough" to manage a high-stakes career position that involves a lot of challenges. Some jobs are still seen as "for men" or "for women," even though those artificial barriers have been proven wrong time and again.
Although the Pew Research Center found in 2014 that more and more dads were opting to stay home and care for their families, they are still vastly outnumbered by women in this area. And it's still a common perception that mothers at home are what's best for the kids. Pew also found that almost half of all respondents—47 percent—felt that mothers should not work more than part-time, and another 33 percent felt that they should not be working at all but should stay home to care for their children. The sociologist Arlie Hochschild referred to these work-life demands as coming home to the "second shift" of work to take care of children and domestic life.
Lack of equal opportunity ties in with stereotyping, which ultimately leads to gender discrimination. Women are paid less and offered fewer opportunities in some business sectors, and sometimes doors are closed to them entirely because of their gender, such as in heavy construction. A women's pay gap remains in place to this day, Many businesses may avoid hiring women of childbearing age simply because they don't want to have to grapple with issues of maternity leave and wondering if somebody will even come back to work after having a child.
Women Can Overcome Business Challenges
Don't despair, though. Women often have life skills and natural abilities that are useful in business. They tend to be great at networking, and they possess inherent skills for negotiating. They own the ability to multitask. Single mothers are often good at delegating and budgeting, skills that they rely on to manage their families.
Specific strategies to help women entrepreneurs and employees succeed include:
Don't accept that you're the underdog - because you're not. Remind yourself that many men would most likely collapse if they had to do all you do on a daily basis.