More women own businesses than ever before but there are still challenges we face and myths surrounding women entrepreneurs. In this three-part series on women in business and entrepreneurship I will discuss my own experiences, facts and statistics about women and entrepreneurship, and challenges we need to overcome as we move forward.
My parents raised me to believe I could do anything. It was not until I grew up that I learned of the adversity facing women in many industries and careers –including entrepreneurship.
As a young, ambitious woman entrepreneur in university, most of my professors were men. Men outnumbered women in my program and at the conferences I attended. I became accustomed to being the only woman or one of a few women at conferences, especially the ones focused on technology.
At one conference I was jokingly asked if I attend the conferences to find a rich businessman to marry. I didn’t see the humor. The panels of guest speakers were predominantly male as well. It would have been nice to hear more about the female perspective and experience in entrepreneurship.
Despite my desire to be surrounded by more like-minded women, I never felt at a disadvantage as a woman entrepreneur and I kept a positive attitude. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of women entrepreneurs do not feel at a disadvantage based on gender. According to the Center for Women’s Business Research, 85 percent of women surveyed do not believe being a woman is detrimental to their business success, and 32 percent believe being a woman is beneficial. I count myself among that 32 percent.
What I like about women entrepreneurs is the sense of community we have created. Since I started writing this blog I have seen many examples of women helping other women to achieve success. There are mentorship and grant programs that successful women entrepreneurs have set up for the up-and-comings and there are conferences that focus on the experiences of women entrepreneurs.
This “tribe” we have created is key. Continuing to build and support the tribe will be one of our greatest assets. Throughout history, women working together have achieved great things. We need to continue working together to achieve even greater things.
What has your experience as a woman entrepreneur been like? Do you feel women entrepreneurs are at an advantage or disadvantage?
Be sure to read Trends and Facts About Women in Business and Entrepreneurship in Part 2 of the series.