5 Challenges Female Entrepreneurs Face Today
For years, women have struggled under the weight of gender politics and inequality. But in the wake of groundbreaking movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, parity no longer looks unattainable. Fortunately, the marches, hashtags, and exposés haven't been in vain, at least in the business world. Business Journals reports that the number of women-owned businesses has grown by 114%, a rate that is 2.5 times faster than the national average.
But, as we said, don't put away your protest signs just yet. There are still many obstacles that women entrepreneurs have to face. Gender-based bias remains pretty evident across various industries — from Hollywood and the corporate world, to science and the arts. So whether you're a female professional looking to take the plunge or an aspiring ally to the feminist coalition, here are some exclusive challenges worth knowing. Remember: the first step to proactivity and empowerment is awareness.
1- Not Being Taken Seriously
Times have changed, and with it are new shoes to fill for women besides the housewife trope. Yet for some people, ladies who attempt to deviate outside of the norm still can't be taken seriously—even if the National Association of Women Business Owners revealed there have been 11.6 million women-owned companies since 2017 (and counting). With a number that substantial, "cute" should be the last adjective to come to mind.
Kelly Collette, who has been featured on our list of most inspiring role models here on Hatch Tribe, calls out the lack of empowering roles for women. "I think women [want] to see more of these empowerment roles for women. We are done just playing the girlfriend or the pretty face that gets rescued," she stated. "Women want roles of complex characters, and women can play them just as well as men, if not better." However, demanding respect isn't the most credible method. The solution is to gather strength in numbers through a solid support group. So the next time a mansplainer talks you down, you can instead turn to your network to back you up instead of relying on others for futile validation.
2- Not Having Enough Confidence
Failure is the number one thing holding back entrepreneurs from success. But what happens when you have this in a society that raised women to believe they have to work twice as hard for the same opportunities that men get? You've got a potentially crippling barrier and the next possible Marie Curies ending up getting lost to insecurity. To counter this tendency of losing confidence, do your best to remain steadfast in what you want to achieve with your business.
If you're an entrepreneur looking to rise to the challenge, taking up further education can be a good way for you to ensure that your confidence holds water. Maryville University also recommends it as a way to open new doors for you as a businesswoman. With programs such as online courses, you are able to pursue your goals without putting your work or personal life on the back burner.
3- Not Having Enough Funding or Financial Support
Sure, money isn't everything, but it certainly helps to get your business off the ground. Statistics have shown a disheartening 17% of women in North America leading venture capital deals, regardless if they boast higher education or advanced degrees. Once again, the matter goes back to not being respected on the same level as businessmen. A man in a suit is touted as respectable, while a woman in a pair of power heels can easily be generalized as intimidating or overly ambitious.
This gender bias, of course, gets in the way of obtaining proper funding for female entrepreneurs. However, it's not a hopeless case. Born2Invest suggests other ways to breathe life into your business, such as looking into female-backed venture funds, membership funding, online fund pages, and grants.
4- Downplaying One's Achievements
Past surveys have revealed that just 42% of female entrepreneurs can say that their business is currently prospering, while 62% of male leaders describe their achievements in a similar manner. This isn't because the latter is better than the former—in fact, it's more of the opposite. According to a report by Forbes, women are actually performing better than their male counterparts, except they are unable to communicate their accomplishments as thoroughly. For men, wearing bravado on their sleeve can help translate into better job opportunities and praise in the work place. But if you're a woman, chances are, you're more likely to be told to sit down or be humble.
It may be tricky to navigate waters like these, but the key is to know how to sell yourself and leverage your accomplishments without the fear of how others may perceive you. Great ideas can indeed open doors, but effective communication is what gets your name out there.
5- Difficulty In Balancing Family and Work
Going back to the antiquated housewife trope, it's no surprise that it is often difficult for women to maintain responsibilities to their business and to their families. While a work-life balance is a much-coveted goal that knows no age, race, or sex, one can't discount the prevailing gender expectations imposed on working mothers.
Finding the middle ground of this ever elusive set-up simply entails solid time management. For "Mompreneurs" having to miss report card day or skipping a meeting for your child’s soccer match once in a while are examples of small sacrifices you'll have to make to perfect the balancing act and ensure everything works in sync.
About Poppy Luna
Poppy Luna is a Columbia-based business consultant and yoga enthusiast with a passion for helping women achieve their career and life goals. When she’s not in meetings or on the mat, she enjoys rock climbing and watercolor painting.