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Monday, November 12, 2018

Imbalance of Power: Overcoming Challenges as Female Entrepreneurs

Woman entrepreneur facing challenges

Being an entrepreneur takes guts. It’s a challenge to develop a brilliant new idea into a thriving business. Few people have achieved this, and it just so happens that even fewer of these inspiring success stories are women. The challenges faced by female entrepreneurs are numerous, caused partially by a culture that celebrates typically male characteristics of dominance and aggression. Women who make it to top executive positions have great insights to share about challenges for women in management.
Here are a few examples of some roadblocks facing the modern entrepreneurial woman:

1. Getting Investors
Not all startups require capital from investors to get started, but it is a vital component for many businesses. Pitching a business is competitive and has a lot to do with your connections, meaning that venture-capital firms are more likely to invest in people from a similar background. Since only 3% of venture-capital-funded companies have female CEOs, it makes it difficult for women to make an impression and get access to funding in a male-dominated field.

2. Social Stigma
Our generation has inherited certain gender stigmas that can prevent women from succeeding at very high levels. For example, many women in positions of power feel pressured to behave in a competitive, aggressive manner in order to be taken seriously in their environment, and yet those who do adopt those behaviors are often sneered at as ‘bossy’. This double standard penetrates to the core of a female’s work life. Women are expected to bear the additional burden of producing and rearing children but often face undue consequences in the workplace for that decision. They are overlooked for promotions and are given very little time off in those critical beginning months to tend to their kids. Professional women sometimes put off having children for fear of the detrimental effect it may have on their careers.

3. Lack of a Support Network
A huge challenge for women in management positions is the lack of a support network. 48% of female business founders report that a lack of mentors hinders their chances at long-term success and professional growth. It is incredibly important for all entrepreneurs to have a reliable network of experienced individuals that they can lean on when things get tough—and they often do in such a cutthroat industry. If you’re just starting out with your business, look to female-centered events like WIN conferences and online forums like the AllBright Collective which supports business development in women and introduces them to investors.

These are just a few of the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs. We’ve come a long way as a society in incorporating women into industries they have historically been excluded from, and that’s a wonderful thing. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to improve the harmful inequalities that still affect many women in the workplace.